A Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting at Gudu district and presided over by Justice Adebunkola Banjoko, was on Monday 27th , February 2012 told that Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe and six other senior officials of Rural Electrification Agency, standing trial in a N5.2billion scam instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, exceeded their approval limit in awarding the N5.2 billion rural electrification contracts to companies allegedly belonging to them.
The other accused persons are Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, Simon Kirdi Nanle, Engr.Lawrence Kayode Orekoya, Abdulsamad Garba Jahun and Barrister Kayode Oyedeji. Speaking at the resumed hearing of the case, a retired director in the Federal Ministry of Power, Y. A .Shamaki while being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinhero, SAN, submitted that the authority that issued exhibit 161 and 162 which were “Certificates of No Objection” to the contracts, had no power to do so because of the cumulative amount involved which exceeded the threshold.
He said the power to issue such certificates, which actually is the power authorizing contractual engagements whenever the amount exceeds N50million, is solely that of the Federal Executive Council.
The contracts were lumped together making the total sum much more than the threshold that the agency was authorized to award without approval from the Federal Executive Council. Shamaki had, in an earlier testimony, said that the option of direct procurement which was adopted by Gekpe and his co accused persons, was not necessary because there was no monopoly as there were other suppliers of the product.His view corroborated that of another witness Mr. Nasir Bello, an assistant procurement officer with the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE who on Monday, November 28th , 2011 testified that the agency did not carry out any tender exercise and evaluation for both the grid and solar contracts, but rather a list of contractors were selected and awarded contacts.
He stated that none of the companies awarded the contracts were on the list of pre-qualified companies forwarded by the ministry nor the projects advertised in any of the national dailies as required by the Public Procurement Act,2007.According to him, a selective tendering process was adopted for the procurement and that though companies were pre-qualified based on the six geo-political zones, REA failed to provide the criteria and scores of the pre-qualification exercise.
Shamaki was later crossed examined by Paul Erokoro,SAN, alongside counsel to other accused persons.
The former REA officials were initially arraigned on 158 count charges in May 2009 but later amended to 68 count charges on October 30th, 2009. Justice Adebunkola, after listening to the testimony of the prosecution witness, adjourned the case to March 19th and 20th March for further hearing.
Media & Publicity Unit
27th February, 2012.