By Christiana Ekpa Abuja
The Nigerian Association of Auctioneers yesterday disclosed that the management and handling of recovered assets in the country has been marred by lack of proper documentation and coordination between government agencies.
This was as the Joint Committee summoned the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFFC, and the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN among others with a view to ascertaining the status of all seized and recovered assets within the period under review.
The Association stated this on Tuesday while appearing before the House of Representatives joint committees on Pubic Accounts and Finance, investigating the status of recovered loots and assets since 1999 to 2016.
Chairman of the Association of Auctioneers, Musa Kra’ah told the hearing that while some agencies have cooperated with his group in trying to auction government seized assets, lack of inter-agency cooperation has hindered the process of carrying out the exercise.
He cited an instance where the association entered into an agreement with the EFCC to auction some recovered assets after which they were told to go and wait for letters of authorisation to auction.
He however, said that before the letters could come, the Ministry of Defence had engaged some of its members to auction the same items listed by the EFCC as things to be auctioned on its behalf.
He said the matter had to be take to the BPP and the Ministry of Justice which waded into it, thereby stopping the said auctioneering exercise.
Adesina Okuneye, President of the Certified Institute of Auctioneers in Nigeria, in his10-page submission with three attachments to which he made adjustments to page 4 – with regards to terms and date, alleged injustice on the part of the BPP against his members.
He said his group participated in the bidding for auction of some government vessels in the Niger Delta, adding that after the promise and letters of appointment given following the bidding and due process with the EFCC, they were again asked to get another letters of appointments instead of letters of allocation as was being expected.
He noted that the process which started in a transparent and credible manner was unduly delayed thereby forcing him to write the BPP to which it responded saying that the request to intervene in the bidding process for the said vessels would not be entertained.
According to him, the BPP said it won’t entertain the complaints brought by the Institute as members bided for the assets individually.
While expressing his disappointment, he noted that the action of the BPP regarding their complaints was tainted with suspicion, saying that there was need to clean up the process of auctioneering in Nigeria.
Asked to expatiate on the claim that the practice of subverting auctioneering process was a pattern in the current administration spanning all government agencies, he said he would need to conduct a research to that effect.
Also asked for details of other claims made in his submission, he disclosed that he won’t be able to provide such due to the agreement of non-disclosure he signed with government.
Earlier in his address, lead Chairman of the joint Committee, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers said the joint committee is committed to upholding the constitution, citing section 88 (2) which enables the legislature to expose corruption and enthrone good governance.
Chinda pointed out that no government can lay claim to legitimacy where there is an ever presence of corrupt cloud hanging over it.
According to him, the hearing is geared towards establishing facts with a view to ascertaining the amount and value of both movable assets and liquid cash that have been covered since 1999.
While declaring the hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, represented by the Deputy Whip of the House, Hon. Pally Iriase said “there have been lots of conflicting reports from various agencies of government and as a parliament, we can’t fold our arms to allow the confusion trailing the status of recovered assets to continue”.