ABUJA – There was a temporary disruption at the ongoing investigations into the procurement violation at the Product Development Institute (PRODA) by the House of Representatives, as the acting Director General, Engr. Fabian Okonkwo revealed that most of the contracts at the agency belonged to members of the National Assembly.
Engr. Okokwo who testified before the Hon. Nasiru Ali Ahmed led House public procurement committee, insisted that the contracts being investigated were awarded in full compliance of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
He further said that most of the jobs executed in the agency were done by highly placed individuals in the National and State Houses of Assembly.
“Mr. Chairman, honourable members, most of the contracts at PRODA belongs to senators and members of the House of Representatives”.
Although, Okonkwo was compelled to apologised to the lawmakers for disclosing that the contracts were executed by them, he however explained that they were two types of contracts at the agency, which include the agency’s contracts and zonal intervention projects otherwise called constituency projects domiciled in the institute.
He clarified that the constituency project contracts were the ones that belonged to the legislators.
The acting DG who was accused of opening an authorised bank account said it was the board chairman of the agency that gave him the approval.
The committee chairman, Hon. Ahmed and many other lawmakers frowned at the action of the acting DG to open an account without approval describing it as an illegality.
Also, testifying before the committee, the permanent secretary, ministry of science and technology, Mr Sunday Edet Akpan said it was not the ministry of science and technology that appointed the acting DG as required by law establishing the agency.
He also said that the actions of the acting DG in awarding some contacts were in violation of the public procurement Act, 2007.
He further said that the the acting chairman of the board, Mr. Diran Ayanbeku had clearly usurped the powers of the president as the Act establishing the agency had clearly stated that it is the president that has powers to appoint a board chairman adding that every action of of the duo is an illegality.
According to the House committee, the acclaimed acting chairman of the board ought not to have assumed the office without communication from Mr. President who has the absolute power to appoint both the board chairman and it members.
In his reaction, the board chairman, Comrade Daniel Onje who has stepped aside in view of the ongoing investigation insisted that he has neither been suspended or sacked by the President adding that he is still the chairman pending the outcome of the probe.
Onje said he was not an impostor as been painted by the committee members and Diran Ayanbeku group as “only the president have the power to appoint and remove me from office. And as we speak, the president has neither sacked me or suspended me. Rather, I was asked to step aside so that investigations into the issues of procurement will be carried out without interference.
“I’m not an impostor; I am still the chairman until Mr. President daily’s otherwise. There is no allegations of corruption against anywhere and the DG was suspended on my recommendations. But I stepped aside for a smooth investigation”, he said.
He argued that this was a normal administrative procedure when issue a like this arise but that does not mean he is on suspension.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ahmad however, told Onje that the permanent secretary, Mr. Sunday Akpan had confirmed that he was no longer the board chairman.
Ahmed ruled that all parties involved including Onje and his board members should return to the committee on Thursday for the continuation of the investigation. He said all concerned will be given room to make their presentations and defend themselves when the investigation reopens today.