The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), an anti-graft coalition, has called on the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to suspend action on and investigate the procurement proposal for the purchase of a new secretariat by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The call was contained in petition by the coalition addressed to the BPP.
Signed by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the coalition’s National Chairman, the group said CCB’s decision to buy a new secretariat amounts to waste and hints at fraud.
CSNAC, relying on a 16 August, 2016 publication by online newspaper, PremiumTimes, said the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) abandoned its multi-billion naira headquarters building on which it had spent N1.4 billion.
“In the quest of having a CCB headquarters complex, located on Plot 816 in the Abuja Central Business District, near Labour House, the project was awarded in 2010 to Brunnel Engineering Limited for N3.5billion. The award was contained in a letter (Reference No. CCB/HQ/CORR/200/14 dated September 7, 2010) and signed by the bureau’s Assistant Director of Procurement, N. Hussaini, on behalf of the bureau’s Chairman, Sam Saba.
"Following the signing of the letter, CCB released 15 percent of the contract sum as mobilization to Messrs. Brunnel Limited and the company mobilized to site," the coalition said.
PremiumTimes, said CSNAC, also reported that as the project commenced, the Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA) approved a new design, stipulating that the complex should be a high-rise building of 18 floors. On account of this, the CCB requested a fresh design for an 18-floor building at the cost of N12 billion from the contractor.
"The bureau obtained a ‘Certificate of No Objection’ from the Bureau of Public Procurement and raised a fresh memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval. But due to lack of funds, FEC ordered the bureau to review the project downward by reducing the number of floors,” explained CSNAC.
It was subsequently reviewed to nine floors, with four underground parking lots, which was approved by FEC on October 31, 2012.
FEC also approved a review of the contract sum from N3.5 billion to N8.7 billion, as shown by the reviewed contract agreement signed on 5 February, 2013.
CSNAC further quoted PremiumTimes as stating: "The inability of CCB to discharge the payment certificate as well as release funds for the project in installments (the bureau expected the contractor to execute the contract with speed) allegedly dogged the project execution, which led to abandonment of the project despite the bureau’s mandate of maintaining a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business.”
CSNAC, however, noted that in the 2016 Budget, the CCB sought the sum of N4.4 billion for the purchase of its headquarters building rather than funds for the completion of the abandoned project.
The amount sought, PremiumTimes reported, is contained in the 2016 Appropriation Act approved by the Presidency and National Assembly via a letter dated 7 June, 2016. The letter, signed by Abiodun Kolawole, acting Secretary of the bureau, was sent to the BPP requesting guidelines for an outright purchase of new building for its headquarters.
On the strength of the apparent hints of waste and fraud, CSNAC demanded an immediate suspension of further action on the purchase of the new building requested by the CCB as well as a thorough investigation into the abandonment of the initial project. This, it explained, is to ensure the completion of the structure under construction within a reasonable time.