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Saharareporters, New York

At every turn in the House renovation scandal bedeviling the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, her handlers and supporters have made no secret about slapping her on the wrist over allegations of corruption and mismanagement that attended the renovation of her official residence and that of her deputy, Mr. Babangida Ngoroje.

The tension generated by the scandal has refused to go away, even as members of the panel constituted by the house submitted their report today. The intrigues are legendary, as the panel was merely given terms of reference that betrays lack of seriousness on the part of the house. According to Honorable David Idoko, the chairman of the 9-member panel, “Our terms of reference does not include recommending sanctions against the Speaker, we were told to examine awards of contracts for the renovation of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s residence and report back to the house”.

 Earlier today, Honorable David Idoko fulfilled that promise by releasing a 19 –page report, which can be summarized in one major “conclusion” that, “Due Process was not followed completely in the awards of contract for the renovation of the Speaker’s residence”. However, this clever attempt by the panel to water down Mrs. Etteh criminal behavior could not be hidden for too long, as the appendage explanation provided by the panel for the breach of due processes returned a verdict of guilty on all counts against the Speaker.

In order to frustrate any debates on the panel report, the House of Representatives yesterday adjourned for two weeks for the Ramadan fast. Mrs. Patricia Etteh had boasted to her opponents that with President Yar’adua, Obasanjo and Andy Uba out of town, she can’t afford to gamble with a plenary session. She needed her saviors to put a leash on her opponents.

The most prominent revelation from the panel sitting, Saharareporters was told remains the cost of renovation of the same structure in 1999 and 2005, while it took Julius Berger Construction company N15 million to fix the Speakers residence in 2005, the panel found out it took only 2.5 million to renovate the Speaker’s residence in 1999.

 

Panel Conclusions:

1.       Tender not advertised.

2.       No in-house bill of quantities and drawings (Architecture, Structural, Electrical and Mechanical) as such there was NO basis for arriving at the approved contract sum.

3.       No specific budget for renovation and furnishing of the official residence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the 2007 budget.

4.       No specific budgetary provision for the purchase of vehicles for principal officers in the 2007 budget.

5.       The procedure for the awards for the body of principal officers on 12 July 2007 shows major acts of omission and disregard for lay down procedures.

6.       The memorandum for the award of contract presented at the body of principal officers at the 12 July 2007 meeting was raised before quotations for jobs were processed. The contract letter was issued on July 6th 2007 prior to the meeting of the body of Principal Officers.

7.       Some of the companies issued contracts were not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), therefore they lacked capacity to compete for contract since the law does not recognize them as companies.

8.       It appears that some principal officers of the House of Representatives were excluded at the meeting of 12 July, 2007 as they were not served notices of meeting.

9.       The contract sum of N238, 252,152 in respect of the renovation and furnishing of the Speaker’s residence was for the main house, not inclusive of cluster of structures in the compound.

10.  All quotations relating to the renovation and furnishing contracts directed to the office of the Speaker and those directed to the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly were first acted upon by the Hon. Speaker for the attention of the Clerk to the National Assembly directing him to process.

The members of the committee are; Reps David Idoko
(Chairman), Depo Oyedokun, Rabe Nasir, Yakubu Dogara,
Sani Saleh Minjibir, Chinedu Eluemonor, Habeeb
Fashinro, Nasir Mohmmed and Peter Umoh.

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