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Reps panel discover missing N501m in communication ministry’s contract

A house of representatives committee panel has revealed that N501 million is currently unaccounted for in a contract awarded by the ministry of communication.

At the hearing on Thursday, the panel investigating abandoned federal government projects discovered that the money is part of the N1.2 billion released for the procurement of radio monitoring equipment projects.

Permanent secretary of the ministry, Musa Istifanus told the lawmakers that the project was terminated due to some unresolved issues.

He said: “As you are aware, the ministry has one or two abandoned projects and the reason is that one of those contracts was terminated due to unresolved issues with the contractor”.

When probed further, , Director of procurement at the ministry, Olusanya Agbe said the problem started when one of the principal partners who he identified as Dan Kabo died in 2004.

He said the over N4 billion contract was divided into three different schedules, with the ministry releasing a total sum of N1.176 billion for the project “out of which N675.2 million was utilised by the contractor and N501.7 million unaccounted for”.

He added that another principal partner of the onshore component also died shortly after collecting N200 million.

Asked the way forward, the permanent secretary said the only way to salvage the current situation is to re-assess the whole procurement and restructure same from scratch.

“Currently, the ministry is deploying radio monitoring equipment mounted on trucks and they are already becoming obsolete due to the arrival of updated ones into the market,” he said.

Officials from the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComsat), the Galaxy Backbone, and the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) were also grilled about the abandoned projects in their books.

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