Senate said it has uncovered how the National Examination Council (NECO) illegally awarded N6.5 billion contracts for the printing of security materials. The indictment of NECO by the Senate was sequel to the Senator Matthew Urhoghide, led Senate Committee on Public Accounts which found the examination body wanting as it failed to appear and defend the allegations raised in the report of the Auditor- General of the Federation. According to NECO in a written response, the contract was awarded through selective tendering which was done to avoid leakage of examination questions. But, the committee observed that the council did not follow due process in the award of the contract. The Committee therefore recommended that the tender board that awarded the contract should be held liable in line with financial regulation 3117(1)&11. Which states , ” where the award is by a tender board , all members of the board shall be sanctioned individually or collectively.
Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Federal Civil Service Commission, Secretary to the Government of the Federation backed a bill seeking for strict implementation and enforcement of the National Assembly recommendations on the Annual Report of the Auditor General for the Federation. The decision to endorse the enforcement of National Assembly recommendations on Audit report was taken at the public hearing organised for the stakeholders on the bill by the Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Uhroghide. The representative of the EFCC, Director of Finance , Mohammed Hammas, the representative of Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation, E.O Ayoola and Dr Mary Ogbe Permanent Secretary of Federal Civil Service Commission agreed with the provisions of the bill but pleaded with committee to give till next week to make written submissions.
The query to NECO by the Auditor General’s office, read, “Examination of records and documents revealed that the Commission’s Tenders Board approved the award of contract for printing of security materials in the sum of ₦451 million to a company in March 2017 in contravention of provisions of Federal Government Circular No.SGF/OP/I/S.3/XI/849 of 16th January, 2016 which reiterated the approved revised thresholds for service wide application, for which the Parastatal Tender Board can only exercise authority on works whose value is less than ₦250 million while any sum above this, is to be referred to the Ministerial Tenders Board for approval. “We sought for the authority for the above approval including the Ministerial approval but none was provided. The above unilateral award of contracts without following due process may lead to awarding contracts to unqualified contractors. Recommendation The Registrar/CEO should be sanctioned in line with provisions of Financial Regulation. The second query read, “Examination of contracts awarded for the printing of Security and Non- Security Documents valued at ₦6,166,405,407.42 revealed that the contracts were awarded without compliance with the provisions of PART VI, Section 24 (I) of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2017 as amended, which states that except as provided by this Act, all procurements of goods and works by all procuring entities shall be conducted by open competitive bidding.
“The following irregularities were also noted, Quotations were not collected from three bidders as required by PPA 2007, Taxes were not deducted from some of the contract payments. There was no Technical and Financial evaluation, Evidence of placement of advertisement was not attached to either payment vouchers or contract files. The amount expended was above the threshold of the Council, The contracts were split as some contracts were awarded to same contractor with LPO and work order issued on the same date.”