The House of Representatives Committee investigating the ‘Disposal of Public Property by Agencies between 2010 and 2022 to unravel the extent of illegal auctioning of public property, non-remittance of revenue realised into Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF),’ at the weekend, frowned at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) after it publicly justified the sales of 82 vehicles for the sum of N5.8 million over the past 12 years.
The lawmakers also quizzed the Sokoto River Basins’ delegation over indiscriminate sales of public assets to management of the Agency in breach of extant Public Procurement Act, at ridiculous prices.
NIMASA’s Executive Director, Mr. Chudi Offodile, announced during the resumed investigative hearing of the committee chaired by Hon. Julius Ihonbvere, that due process was followed.
According to the committee, the documents presented showed that Peugeot Expert Ambulance with market value of N200,000 was sold at forced liquidation/auction value of N95,000; Honda Civic Saloon Car with market value of N170,000 was sold at N76,500; Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with market value of N300,000 was sold at N140,000; another Toyota Hilux (Accidental) with market value of N200,000 was sold at N96,000 while another Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with market value of N250,000 was sold at N115,000.
“Two units of Toyota Hilux which was at the time of inspection in the custody of Cabotage Consultant in Lagos, put at N1 million market value, was sold at N470,000 each forced liquidation/auction value; Honda Civic put at N210,000 was sold at N95,000; Honda City put at N190,000 market value was sold at N80,000; among others.
“Through its office in Abuja, a Toyota Hilux put at N500,000 market value was sold at N245,000; Toyota Avensis put at N300,000 market value was sold at N145,000; Toyota Corolla put at N300,000 market value was sold at N147,000; two units of Honda Civic put at N90,000 market value were sold at N30,000 each; among others.”
Other lawmakers who spoke during the investigative hearing, demanded for documentary evidence of funds remitted into the CRF account as provided by extant provisions of the Procurement Act, Proceed of Crimes Act, and other known legislations or financial regulations.
Offodile, who denied knowledge of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, on the remittance of the funds generated from the sale of public assets, affirmed that the proceeds of sales were paid by the Auctioneers into NIMASA’s coffers.
Ihonvbere, while expressing surprise that most of the vehicles displayed in the document presented to the ad-hoc committee didn’t show that they were old or not in good condition, saying, “looking at them (pictures of vehicles captured in the documents), some of them are looking new.”
Ihonbvere, thereafter narrated how a former Edo State Governor engaged a female mechanic to fix some of the vehicles tagged as unserviceable vehicles and recovered over 100 vehicles while other spare parts were stored and that over 100 vehicles fixed by the female mechanic were deployed to various MDAs, thereby blocking financial leakages.
He expressed concern over the rationale behind the placement of an advert on March 29, 2022, calling for a public auction of NIMASA vehicles and sale of all the vehicles on March 30, 2022 through forced liquidation/auction while alleging that the move, “leaves us with the impression that it’s a pre-arrangement.”
The Majority Leader further argued that the process contravened the extant Public Procurement Act to dispose public assets within the duration of 24 hours and disclosed that the Ad-hoc Committee was in custody of petitions against NIMASA that the vehicles were sold to some officials and staff of the Agency, maintaining that the auctioneers engaged by NIMASA were merely hired to rubber stamp the fictitious insider trading.
Furthermore, the lawmakers requested for a list of all the auctioneers as well as beneficiaries of the vehicles, the original cost of vehicles and invoices, letter of contract awards for auctioning of the assets to the auctioneers; relevant approvals obtained from Federal Ministry of Works & Housing as well as Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
Ihonbvere, however directed the delegation from NIMASA and Sokoto River Basin, should provide relevant documents that would aid the ongoing investigation. The Ad-hoc Committee is expected to resume hearing on Wednesday, 20th September 2023.
Juliet Akoje in Abuja.