Nothing better captures the sad tales of corruption in Nigeria by government agencies and organizations than the age-long wanton looting and pilfering of taxpayers’ funds by the Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration Lagos Nigeria (RCICAL), which was established far back as 1989 under the auspices of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO).
Established as a non-profit making institution with the prime objective of providing a system for settlement of disputes for the benefit of parties engaged in trade, commerce, and investment, the Center, however, seem to have developed a keen interest in internal corrupt practices over the years by way of auctioning official properties despite the Public Procurement Act 2007 section 56 vividly stating the procedures required for such disposal.
According to documents seen by SecretReporters, in 2018, an official brand new Mercedes Benz Jeep bought in 2015, estimated to be worth $94,200 (Ninety Four Thousand, Two Hundred Dollars), averagely N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) for a fairly used one according to business experts was approved for disposal and sold off to an individual by RCICAL at a peanut price of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) paid in cash. This was done without adequate evidence to prove remittance of sales proceeds to the CRF, showing total disregard for the Public Procurement law set in place to ensure proper valuation of assets across the country.
It was also reported that the Centre injudiciously spent N26,446,602 (Twenty Six Million, Four Hundred and Forty-Six Thousand, Six Hundred and Two Naira) on the hiring of generators, renovation of an office building, and refund for guest house packing expenses among others, without providing supporting documents attached to payment vouchers for such services rendered and items purchased, an alleged careless and intentional attitude on the part of the Centre perhaps to divert public funds to their coffers.
With the breaking of laws now breakfasts for all at the Centre, this online news medium further learned that the Wilfred Ikatari-led management of the Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, not satisfied with all its rascality, dipped their hand further into the cookie jar by breaching the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and other extant laws and Regulations as seen in the 2018 Audit Report of the Auditor General of the Federation by awarding contracts up to the tune of N14,837,515 (Fourteen Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifteen Naira) to a contractor without any competitive bidding or quotations.
Attempts to get a response from the management of the Centre on the issues raised we learned met a brick wall, as the Auditor General’s office, in its recommendation as contained in the report had directed that the Executive Director of the Center, Mr. Wilfred Ikatari, be quizzed as to why the Center was unable to follow procurement guidelines and provide the sum of N14,837,515 (Fourteen Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifteen Naira) paid in respect to the contract awarded or made to face the full wrath of the law.