Alleged N1.4bn, property theft: ICPC raids Surveyor General’s office

•Arrests director, driver

Operatives of the Independent Corruption Practices Commission (ICPC) Wednesday morning raided the office of Surveyor-General of the Federation (OSGF), arresting the acting director, Internal Boundary, Yemi Adebomeyin and a driver.

The operatives also took away a bag containing invoices and other financial documents spanning the last four years.

Sources at OSGF told Tribune Online that Surveyor-General, Mr Ebisintei Awudu narrowly escaped arrest as he quickly left office.

Spokesperson for the Commission, Hajia Rasheedat Okoduwa confirmed the arrest but declined to give details, citing sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

Nigerian Tribune however, gathered from the Surveyor General’s office that ICPC operatives were investigating a series of audit reports, which indicted the Surveyor-General Ebisintei Awudu and some senior officials of multi-billion-naira contract frauds and theft of properties.

The audit report recommended that that OSGF should be investigated by the anti-graft authorities and that the Accountant-General of the Federation should constitute an inquiry into the accounts of the office.

It required that Mr. Awudu should explain detailed observed contract frauds, as well as disregard for due process and accountability standards.

For instance, between January and June 2018, according to the audit inspection report on the surveyor-general’s office, questions of fraud raised by the auditor-general’s office involved a sum of N1.4 billion, including N725.8 million reported to have been paid to three companies within one week without any evidence of service or contract rendered.

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The three companies included Altruinco services Ltd., F.A Kassim Survey Associates Ltd., and M. Yahaya and Associates. As presented in the table below, only Altruinco was paid on March 22, 2018, F.A Kassim was paid in three transactions in one day, March 27, 2018, the same day M. Yahaya was paid in two different transactions, according to the report delivered in November 2018.

“After a careful examination of all the payment vouchers for the period that were presented for audit inspection, it was observed that the above-listed payments were made without raising any payment vouchers in violation of FR 601 which stipulated that ‘…under no circumstance shall a cheque be raised or cash paid for services of which a voucher has not been raised.’,” according to the audit inspection report.

“It was also observed, after careful examination of all contract files, contract award letters and other procurement records…, the (of the surveyor-general) made the payments to the contractors without awarding any contract, LPO or job order to them.

“As a result, the contractors were paid for work/services not rendered to the office in violation of FR 708 which stipulates that ‘on no account should payment be made for services not yet performed or for goods not yet supplied.”

According to the reports, the payments were made in breach of FR 412 as no ‘certificate of completion’ was raised for any work done and that nowhere in the internal audit report of the office for the month of March 2018 were the payments mentioned.

The report then recommended to the Accountant-General of the Federation to “immediately convey a Board of Enquiry” to investigate “loss of public funds” in accordance with FR 2531.

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Aside the N725 million “irregular” payments other scandalous observations were made regarding award of contracts to F.A Kassim and M. Yahaya in violation of public procurement law.

In one case, a N170 million contract for the acquisition of unmanned aerial system for surveying and mapping, including software (drone) training, was awarded to M. Yahaya and Associates instead of Quest Consolidated Ltd approved in the certificate of ‘no objection’ by the Bureau of Public Procurement. But then, auditors reported that the surveyor-general’s office’s store ledger shows no record the equipment was received.

Another report on vehicle inspection for the period of January and December 2018 also revealed the possible theft of at least three vehicles, two of which were traced to Awudu himself.

The Toyota Hilux (4×4) double cabin, were acquired for separate projects in Borno State and Ogun State. The contractors, M Yahaya and Quest Consolidated were reported to have returned the vehicles upon completion of the projects.

“During the physical inspection of all the vehicles belonging to the office” however, “these particular vehicles were not presented for inspection. Further, enquiry from the transport unit revealed that the whereabouts of the vehicles are currently unknown.

“A review of available store records revealed that the vehicles were last issued to the surveyor-general of the federation.

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