Exclusive: Monumental Fraud And Illegality In FERMA

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Peter Ibu
Peter Ibu

•As Group Indicts Peter Ibu led management of fraudulent activities

A group of concerned members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has petitioned Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to look into the activities of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) whose management were alleged to be working at cross purposes to the trust of the present administration in the area of infrastructural development, an act described as capable of sabotaging the efforts of government to succeed.

In a petition titled “Monumental Fraud And Illegality In FERMA: As FERMA Management Working Against The Interest Of APC Government”, the group known as Concerned APC Members indicted the Engr. Peter Ibu led management of fraudulent activities, insensitivity to the plight of FERMA contractors, agonies of Nigerian road users and sabotaging of government efforts at providing motorable roads across the country.

In the petition signed by Hamzat Abdullahi and Joel Andrew, the group said its call for a total overhauling of FERMA management  could be corroborated by an earlier call by the National Assembly to sack the management of the Agency.

“We are also not unaware of several admonitions and condemnations both from Senate and House Committee on FERMA. On some occasions, the National Assembly has called for the sack of the entire management while some of the news were captions as “Sack FERMA MD NOW”, –NASS Nigerian Pilot of February 16, 2017, “how FERMA want to run down APC government having discovered unused N2 billion idle fund in FERMA account” , the group said.

The management was accused of delay in awarding contracts for road repairs, construction and maintenance several weeks after bidding had been completed and successful bidders waiting endlessly to collect award letters for phases I and II and move to site to commence work.

This delay by the management, according to the petitioner, could be termed as deliberate act to sabotage government efforts and consequently further endangering lives of millions of Nigerians plying the various roads across the country on daily basis.

“The letters of award for phase I was then released to contractors in November, 2016 with the hope of releasing the phase II in December, 2016. But to peoples amusement, we reliably gathered that about 50 letters of the 88 contract award letters released in November, 2016 were cornered by the FERMA management themselves, a situation in which the Acting MD, the procurement G.M, the S.A to the MD and  all acting EDs got between (3 to 5) three to five contract award letters.

“Only about (38) thirty eight remaining letters were left for the helpless contractors. The aberration is there left unchallenged. And up till now the FERMA management have refused to release the second phase (Phase II) letters of award that have been ready since December last year, instead, we were reliably informed that few out of the phase II letters has been released to those considered powerful by the FERMA MD and his S.A leaving  the rest waiting forever.”, raising concern over discrepancies I contact awards.

Irked by the incessant loss of lives to road carnages as a result of poor conditions of our roads, the group said many of these accidents could have been avoided should FERMA do their work diligently while it cited the death of a former Minister of State for Labour and Productively, Barrister James Ocholi as atypical examples on notable people lost to road accidents.

“It is therefore, very amusing that FERMA is not releasing the award letters of the concluded phase II projects since December 2016, citing excuse of no cash backing or that one is a recurrent projects while others are capital projects. This thinking is so absurd and untenable, and made one to grinned cynically and asked questions if these management is competent, capable, patriotic and working for the interest of APC Federal Government. Or is it a deliberate attempt to undermine and jeoperdise our hard earned General Election Victory of 2015 for our great party APC?”.

The group then raised some questions bordering on the finances of the Agency, such as:

(a)     Who owns the N10 billion (Ten billion naira) claimed by FERMA? This money was part of Ministry of Works fund that was mistakenly posted by Ministry of Finance into FERMA account in October 2016.

(b)     Why was the parent Ministry asking for the refund of the said money, if it was truly meant for FERMA Capital Project?

(c)     Why was such claim of refund backed by a letter emanating from the parent Ministry instructing FERMA not to touch or divert the fund.

(d)     Has FERMA received any other fund whatsoever apart from the disputed N10 billion from Federal Government Account till date, either for recurrent or capital projects.

(e)     What stops FERMA from not releasing the concluded phase II award letters, since all the processes have been completed just like phase I? more importantly, since there has never been any fund on ground either for recurrent nor for capital project.

To prevent FERMA from further damage to the image of APC led government the group then pray as follows:

1)   That all the acting management of FERMA be sacked with immediate effect and a permanent and reputable team be constituted to replace them.

2)   That all the contract award letters of phase I, II and III that has been concluded be released immediately without further delay to enable our roads repaired now, in the dry season and to avoid unnecessary litigation. Because, we have gathered that a group of contractors are battle ready to take FERMA to court by 1st March, 2017 should the phase II letters were not released.

3)   That an intervention funds that would allow FERMA carryout her key maintenance roles should be made available to them and these could also be used to clear the backlog of debts and the ongoing project as it was done to the parent Ministry of Works, Power and Housing.

4)   That the activity of FERMA should be closely monitored by EFCC and ICPC henceforth to avoid further and future mismanagement of fund.

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