Minister confirmed agency’s auction of N2bn assets at N13.6m – Reps

House of Reps3

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has said the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, admitted that an order by the ministry to the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority to sell off government Plant, Property and Equipment valued at over N2bn was in error.

OORBDA had auctioned the assets at a paltry N13.618m, according to an audit query issued by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.

Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, at an investigative hearing by the panel on Monday, where the lawmakers reviewed the minister’s appearance and presentation to them on Thursday, quoted Adamu to have said he was not aware of the provisions of Section 55 of the Public Procurement Act which vested the power on the agencies.

Oke had sought to know whether the management of four of the River Basin Development Authorities that appeared before the committee deliberately auctioned the properties.

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The chairman said, “Your Minister was here last week and admitted that he actually raped the law. He apologised and said he did not know that this law actually exists. How can you just carry auctioneers and give them government property to auction?

“Is the Minister for Water Resources the same as the Upper Niger Basin Development Authority? They went to Abeokuta and carried the property belonging to Nigerians and they admitted that we have 12 River Basin Development Authorities.

“The Auctioneers were here and we asked them how they knew that the items would be auctioned. Where is the advertisement you responded to? How many auctioneers do we have in Nigeria and why is it just four that were selected to do the auction? Your colleague from Abeokuta was rushing to defend the Ministry. They carried out the auction without recourse to the provisions of the law.

He added, “It is this same law that sent Bode George and his co-travellers at NPA to jail. It is the same law that earned Ngilari, that we wrote the law together in 2003, a sentence in Adamawa.

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“You do not wait for somebody to take over your function because he is your supervisory ministry. The former Chairman of the Board of Ogun-Oshun (River Basin Development Authority) said he was coming to this parliament to testify of how he tried to stop them, using police and everything. Yet, they forcefully took away government property and sold them at ridiculous prices.”

Adamu, while appearing before the committee, last week said he was not in office when the proposal to auction the items in the River Basin Development Authorities was first presented. The committee, however, dismissed the claim.

The ministry’s written presentation to the committee indicates that a Board of Survey was constituted by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources on October 7, 2018, which was headed by the Director of Human Resources, Abdul-Sule Mohammed, with the mandate to inspect all the unserviceable items listed for disposal by the agencies among others.

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The report partly read, “Prior to the commencement of inspection of the unserviceable items and in tandem with the directive of the Honourable Minister, the RBDAs were formally advised to expunge from the list of items earlier recommended for boarding, any item(s) considered salvageable.”

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