A sensational episode unfolded during a recent session of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee’s investigative hearing, as DC Engineering Limited, a construction firm, leveled accusations against officials from the Federal Ministry of Works. DC Engineering Limited alleged that a road contract initially priced at N9.8 billion had been surreptitiously inflated to an astonishing N54.3 billion.
The construction and rehabilitation project in question pertains to the 41-kilometer Ijebu-Igbo Ita Ibadan Road. This project had remained stalled for more than five years since the contract was awarded, becoming a matter of profound concern. To address this issue, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas convened an Ad-hoc Committee for an investigative hearing.
During this inquiry, Engr. Ade Adedeji, the Executive Director of DC Engineering Ltd, was summoned to provide testimony before the Committee chaired by Hon. Kwamoti Bitrus Laori. In a public forum, Adedeji disclosed that the contract was originally intended to be completed within two years. However, the Federal Ministry of Works had taken five years (from 2018 to 2023) before disbursing the 15 percent mobilization funds, totaling N1.3 billion.
Backed by a cache of documents, including the initial contract award letter, Adedeji alleged that the contract had been inflated, posing funding challenges for the Federal Government. He attributed the sluggish progress of the project to a lack of financial disbursements, emphasizing that the 15 percent mobilization fee had been paid in multiple installments, with the final portion only being received a few weeks prior.
According to Adedeji, DC Engineering Ltd had approached the Ministry of Works to seek a revision of the contract value to at least N14 billion due to increased material costs, but the Ministry had declined their request.
In a surprising twist, Adedeji claimed that the same Ministry, which had refused to review the contract upwards to N14 billion, had subsequently re-awarded the contract to AREATECH Construction Ltd for the sum of N54.3 billion without terminating DC Engineering’s contract.
Engr. Adedamola Kuti, the Director of Highways South at the Federal Ministry of Works, represented the Ministry during the hearing. He admitted to the termination of DC Engineering Ltd’s contract in September 2022 but remained silent on the reasons behind the Ministry’s refusal to review the contract’s value before awarding it to AREATECH Construction Ltd for N54 billion.
When pressed to provide essential documentation such as the contract termination letter with DC Engineering Ltd, the Bureau of Public Procurement’s certificate of no objection for AREATECH Construction Ltd, and the Federal Executive Council’s approval letter, Kuti promised to return with the requested information.
In a statement presented by Solicitor Tolu Babaleye & Co on behalf of DC Engineering Ltd, the company alleged that the actions of Hon. Tolulope Akande Sadipe, a member representing Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State, had hindered their efforts to execute the project. The statement also claimed that certain individuals within the Ministry had attempted to re-award the contract to AREATECH Construction Ltd for N54.3 billion, potentially defrauding the Federal Government.
Both Engr. Kuti and Hon. Sadipe denied any involvement or impropriety related to the contract. The Ad Hoc Committee’s Chairman, Hon. Kwamot Bitrus Laori, clarified that the Committee’s objective was not to target any individual but to uncover the reasons behind the road project’s failure and determine the path forward.
To address lingering questions and concerns, the Committee urged the Federal Ministry of Works and all relevant parties to submit the required documentation to the Committee’s secretariat by September 11, 2023. The proceedings were subsequently adjourned indefinitely.