House Queries N1.15bn Ballot Paper Contract Fraud

The House of Representatives yesterday queried the federal government’s alleged award of  N1.15 billion contract from the Service Wide Votes for the printing of ballot papers for the 2007 presidential election in April 2007.
To that effect, the House Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Lagos), has invited the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa together with the Permanent Secretary, State House, to appear before it latest by April 26.
According to Olamilekan,  records available to his committee from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation point to fact that “there are elements of double transactions.”
He explained that the CBN transferred N1.15 billion to the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa for the printing of presidential ballot papers on April 17, 2007.
Equally, he said a South African company was given the contract to produce 65 million ballot papers at the unit cost of N16 each.
The transaction was carried out after a memo from the former Chief of Staff to the president was sent to the Accountant General of the Federation to cause the issue of N1.15 billion from the Service Wide Votes.
“But I can tell you, there were two cheques from the State House sent to the CBN for the same purpose (N1.15 billion). So we don’t know how much was actually collected. How many times was the contract paid for?
“We are therefore inviting these agencies to come and show us evidence of correspondence- how many ballot papers were printed and at what cost. We would like to see the contractual agreement. We want clarification concerning the cheques that were raised for N1.15 billion, which gave room for double transaction”
It was alleged that the contract was awarded to Lithotech, part of Bidvest Group of South Africa.

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