The Ministry of Works and the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption, Ethics and Values are at daggers drawn over alleged misappropriation of N19.2bn meant for various road projects across the country.
The Committee had summoned the ministry to appear before it to account for the funds released for the construction and rehabilitation of major roads across the Niger, but the ministry, to its chagrin, opted to shun all efforts to that effect.
The development forced the committee to issue a two-week ultimatum to the ministry which was also observed in the breach, a situation that angered the leadership of the committee who is considering resorting to the issuance of a warrant of arrest on the minister of works.
The committee, it was learnt, had in response to several petitions from sundry quarters, decided to investigate the matter first by embarking on over sight functions to some of the roads in question and discovered that despite the huge sums released less than appreciable work was done after two years.
Secondly, it decided to invite the ministry to appear before it with a view to getting facts on what may have been responsible for the slow pace of work on these roads as well as determined what need be done to hasten their completion.
However, the committee’s effort seems thwarted as the ministry has neither responded by letter nor made effort to communicate secretariat of the committee.
Peoples Daily investigation reveals that N18.2bn was initially released to the ministry in the first quarter of 2013 while additional N1, 055, 447,608.16 was later released to the ministry to hasten up the completion of the works.
Some of the roads which releases were made to facilitate their rehabilitation and completion includes: Lagos-Shagamu Road-N4bn, Enugu-PortHarcourt Expressway-N4.5bn, Ilorin-Mokwa-Tigina-Gwari-Kaduna Expressway-N4bn,Suleja-Minna Road-N2bn, Abuja-Lokoja Road-N1.7bn, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway Phase 11-N2bn.
It was further learnt that even the Presidency was embarrassed by the level of works that it directed the newly appointed Permanent Secretary in the new ministry to probe how the amounts were expended.
“You won’t believe that nothing tangible has been done to justify the various amounts allocated to the ministry,” he said noting that even the Presidency is embarrassed by the amount of works done so far and has ordered in-house inquest.
The member of the committee told Peoples Daily, “The committee wrote the management about three weeks ago, but till date they did not consider it necessary to even reply the letter”.
“If you go to the ministry now, a new Permanent Secretary was recently deployed there to vet how these various sums were spent. He was given specific instructions to unravel how the allocations to the ministry were disbursed and how it was managed”.
“As we speak, most of the contractors working on those sites have not been paid their monies despite the fact that the ministry has received N19.2bn on the projects,” the member said adding that the ministry seems to continue in a trend that first occurred during the Obasanjo presidency when N3bn was supposedly spent without anything to show for it.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the committee, Hon. Abiodun Faleke has confirmed that the ministry has re3fused to honour invitation to appear before members to account for the releases.
“Yes, we wrote to the ministry on the matter; but as I speak with you, we are still expecting response from ministry. It is a weighty allegation and we don’t intend to sweep it under the carpet”, he affirmed.