The Public Account Committee of the House of Representatives Committee is currently probing the award of contracts valued at N18.9bn by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for clearing of bush, land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon Woke Oke (PDP-OSUN) disclosed on Tuesday in Abuja at the resumed investigative hearing of the committee on queries to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government by the office of Auditor General of the Federation.
Hon Oke assured that the committee would carry out a diligent investigation into the matter as the committee was interested in finding out the location of the projects and the significance of such projects to the country.
He said that consequentially the committee had summoned the ministry and the companies involved to appear before the House for a proper investigation.
However, the companies that were supposed to appear before the House on Tuesday were conspicuously absent without any reason adduced for their absence.
Hon Oke lamented that the companies were excited to “appear before the committee on investigation of contracts awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of roads, bush clearing, land preparation and rehabilitation of soil and plant laboratories video utilisation of funds from Service Wide vote between 2013 and 2021 totalling N18,924,004,359.38.”
According to him, “during the lockdown of the country as a result of COVID 19, some companies took contracts worth about N18 billion for bush clearing from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others. We cannot shave their head in their absence.
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“So, we have invited them to come and give us their own side by responding to the issues and show us the places they are supposed to have cleared. They have to take us to the land they cleared.
“We have invited the Ministry of Agriculture and they have made a submission. But some of our members whose constituencies these projects were supposed to be domiciled doubted the existence of these projects and for a fair hearing, we have invited the companies that got the contract for them to come and tell this committee where and when the jobs were executed.
“We will wait till the end of the hearing today to see if they will appear. If they are not here, we will have to do the needful to get them to come.”