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NIGERIA: N20bn contract, Anenih has a case to answer – Reps

former Works Minister, Chief Tony AnenihThe House of Representatives will this week invite former Works Minister, Chief Tony Anenih, to explain his role in an alleged N20 billion contract scam.

This was disclosed, weekend, by Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, PAC, of the House, Solomon Olamilekan.

The contract which was said to have been awarded during Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration has made it impossible for the committee to conclude its report on the Auditor General of the Federation’s annual report for 2006.

Olamilekan said: “We will formally invite Anenih to come and explain to us how N20 billion remains unaccounted for during his tenure as Works Minister.

“We want him to come so that we can conclude our investigation. This is because he has a case to answer; if he does not come it will make our probe inconclusive.”

Reacting to Anenih’s claim late last year that he had not been formally invited by the House, Olamilekan said: “Yes, we are going to do that this week unfailingly.”

The PAC chairman also said that nine  Permanent Secretaries managing River Basin Authorities in various states would appear before the committee to explain how N993 million disappeared from the coffers of the agencies.

He said: “These men will give account of all these funds because even though some of them have been retired from service, they are still working”.

It would be recalled that the former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, was mentioned last year to have been involved in a N2.3 billion road contract purportedly disbursed for an abandoned road project in Nasarawa State in 2006.

The contract was said to have been awarded in 2001 when he was still the Minister of Works.

The committee also threatened to summon site engineers, Federal Controller of Works and Permanent Secretary of the ministry when the contract was awarded.

Olamilekan had threatened that the House would not hesitate to use the services of Interpol to extradite the contractor, Torino Internazionale Nigeria Ltd, which left the country after collecting N1.8 billion without executing the road  project.

According to him, Chief Anenih has been invited in respect of a memo he presented to the then Federal Executive Council, FEC, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which convinced the body to award the contract, despite an earlier advice that the firm had no technical capacity to handle the road project.

The committee had expressed reservation as to why such a huge amount of money would go down the drain under the watchful eyes of those at the helm of affairs.

Auditor-General of the Federation, AGF, had in its 2006 audit report, alleged that the failed road contract was awarded at the cost of N2.3 billion, of which N552 million was paid before the contract was terminated.

The contractor later went to court where he obtained judgment of N1.3 billion against the Federal Government for terminating the contract.

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