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More troubles for Marilyn Amobi as Reps set to probe NBET over alleged corruption

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There seems to be more woes for the previously ousted Managing Director/CEO of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc, Dr. Marilyn Amobi as lawmakers of the House of Representatives have passed a resolution to probe NBET over alleged corruption.

The corruption probe, ElombahNews gathered, will extend as far back as 2015 dating to when flood of petitions started flowing from her stables.

Mrs. Amobi came under scrutiny in 2019 when the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to probe the management of NBET.

HEDA alleged that NBET Managing Director, Amobi, misappropriated public funds running into several millions of Naira.

Not long after, some NBET staff-turned whistleblowers, Deputy General Manager and Head of Internal Audit, Sambo Abdullahi and General Manager and Chief Finance Officer, Waziri Bintube, were featured on air in a popular radio station in Abuja and accused the MD of embezzling state resource worth billions of Naira.

They also claimed that the management was persecuting them because they refused to alter official documents to reflect different figures.

The Whistle blowers quoted a 2014 report that claimed NBET wrote the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) requesting to be excluded from being subjected to Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act in its power purchase agreement which the BPP declined.

Following the refusal, NBET advertised a notice for an expression of interest for legal practitioners to give legal interpretation on BPP posture.

Two years after the procurement process had been stopped, the Internal Audit was said to have received a request from Mrs. Amobi for payment of N30 million to two firms; Azinge and Azinge to be paid a contract sum of N14 million and Aelex N16 million respectively.

 

The whistle blowers wrote:

“It was reported that in 2016, NEXANT, a software and energy firm, engaged the services of Uzoma Achinaya, former staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN); to provide advisory and analytics work for NBET and that in line with the arrangement, Mr. Achinaya would work for NBET for a certain period after which he would present a report to NEXANT and claim his payment from NEXANT.

“This was said  to have happened.”

They also raised allegations  that instead of NEXANT paying the consultant, NBET’s leadership decided to pay  him despite not being party to the engagement agreement and that in January 23, 2017, Mr. Achinaya wrote Mrs. Amobi requesting NBET to pay him N7 million in advance for the work he had done so far, stating that the amount should be recovered from the payment after the resolution of issues with NEXANT.”

Other questionable issues were irregularities in the request which led  to its being flagged by the Internal Audit  as a result of which the payment was declined to Mr. Achinaya prompting  the audit department to insist that it declined the payment because Mrs. Amobi’s N7.5 million request was above her N2.5 million approval limit.

In one of the multiple corruption allegations, it was alleged that Amobi “fraudulently paid at least N2 billion to two power generating companies, Omotosho Electric Genco and Olorusogo Electric Company.”

The report noted that, “these illegal payments wouldn’t have been possible without Ms Amobi’s insistence.”

Also chronicled in the report were her illegal payments to law firms, illegal payments to a consultant, and transfer of staff without board’s approval.

And when she was asked to respond to these allegations, she rained missiles of abuse on her interlocutor.

Up until this moment, two officers of NBET, Abdullahi and Bintube, who rather than co-operate with her in her corrupt activities chose to frustrate her efforts by acting as whistleblowers, are being punished for doing the right thing.

Amobi removed them from their duties and brought in staff from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to do their work.

Both have also been denied their salaries and other entitlements since December 2017.

Consequent upon the avalanche of petitions, the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, on December 24, 2019, asked Amobi to step down with immediate effect.

The order came few hours after the minister ordered the indefinite suspension of managing director of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Damilola Ogunbiyi.

In a statement, the special adviser to the minister, Aaron Artimas, said the move is to restore sanity in the management of the company.

Following the step down of Amobi, Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa assumed office as NBET Acting Managing Director/CEO.

To the shock and chagrin of observers, however, President Muhammadu Buhari reversed Amobi’s dismissal as NBET boss.

President Buhari’s directive was contained in a memo issued by the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).

Shortly thereafter, the embattled Amobi was once again indicted in a fresh N517 million naira contracts-splitting and misappropriation in the procurement process that could send her to jail for five years without an option of fine.

According to reports emanating from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), Anthony Ayine, the NBET boss had split contracts awarded to Julius Berger Plc ‘in different amounts, in different award letters and within short intervals to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc’.

Notwithstanding, the adamant President Buhari, on May 7, 2020, approved her reappointment as managing director of the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company.

The directive of her reappointment was announced in a statement signed by , Special Adviser on media and communications to the minister of finance, budget and national planning, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi.

With the latest move to investigate her, It is left to be seen if the House of Representatives will finally nail her or issue her with a clean sheet.

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