EFCC recovers over N1 trillion in three years ― Magu

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recovered over N1 trillion public funds pilfered through inflated contracts and other financial malfeasance, its acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu said in Abuja on Tuesday.

At the Government Contract Dispute Resolution Workshop organised by Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Magu said “we cannot pretend not to know that monies are siphoned from the system by corrupt public officials through ghost projects in most cases and the man at the centre of this infraction is the contractor.”

“Through this channel, billions of naira have been looted from the public treasury. The Commission has gotten many convictions from the courts bordering on such cases.

“These convictions include two ex-governors who are currently serving their jail terms.

“The EFCC, through its aggressive tracing and recovery of stolen assets, has in the last three years and half years, recovered over a trillion Naira, while the impunity with which public funds are looted, has been curtailed substantially.

“This means of fighting corruption has been immensely beneficial to the nation’s economy.

“Nonetheless, it is vital for the growth and development of the country to address any form of disputes that will occur in the execution of government contracts,” he stated.

According to him, since the government does not execute contracts by itself the private sector and other government bodies are engaged in executing these contracts for the general development of our country.

“To ensure due diligence, transparency and accountability in the procurement process therefore, the Public Procurement Act was enacted which is being enforced by the Bureau of Public Procurement, (BPP).

“Despite these, however, Magu who was represented his Special Adviser, Policy Matters, Ms. Ena Keno Oju, in every relationship, disputes are inevitable, but when they happen, it is not for the contract to suffer because when the projects are halted, the people suffer and the development of the nation is retarded.

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“This is why the issue of ADR in government contracts is of great need. For the government contract practitioner, the subject of simplifying and expediting the dispute resolution process is highly essential.”

Speaking earlier, President, ACCI, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode explained that one of the critical factors driving economic development, ease of doing business as well as investment in any society is the existence of effective and efficient disputes resolution mechanisms.

“Over a year ago, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in line with the best international practices as laid down by the International Chamber of Commerce; established a Dispute Resolution Centre where interested parties can have an additional option for resolution of commercial disputes through ADR.

“This was consequent upon the need to remedy the critical challenges in expeditious resolution of commercial disputes and indeed all disputes in Abuja and Nigeria in general.”

Kayode disclosed that main causes of disputes between contractors and the Government were non-payment of certified sums; financial claims; wrongful determination of contract, ambiguous contract documents; inadequate provisions in the contract conditions and misinterpretation of contract documents amongst others.

“It is already a challenge to resolve these disputes as parties resort to litigation as the preferred resolution method thereby causing delays in project delivery and also make projects expensive in the long run.

“Also, these disputes have been seen to have caused poor performance in government projects and often leads to prolonged delays in implementation, interruptions and sometimes even suspensions of work.

“However, in recent times, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and all forms of ADR have been accepted as the appropriate means of resolution of Government Contract Dispute hence this workshop.”

Also speaking in a closing remarks, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami who was represented by Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Akpata noted that government contracts, when executed without needless delays occasioned by contractual disputes have direct bearing on the wellbeing of the citizens, improves the economy and fast-track the overall development of the country.

“The importance of seeking a better, efficient and seamless alternative to resolving disputes arising from government contract other than litigation remains very critical.

“The Public Procurement Act 2007 provides a comprehensive public procurement framework for execution of all Government projects and services.

“Alternative Dispute Resolution the world over has now gained wide acceptance as an effective mechanism for the resolution contractual disputes in line with global best practices.”

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