Investigations has shown that the Enugu State Ministry of Education used a fictitious company named Colano Affairs and Colano Affairs Integrated Venture, which is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, the body in charge of registering businesses in Nigeria, to obtain 17 contracts, a clear misappropriations of public funds.
The investigation by SecretsReporters revealed that the fictitious firm received several contracts totaling N228.600, 000 between 2019 and 2020.
The 17 contracts, with contract amounts ranging from eleven million to sixteen million Naira, are mostly for the construction and reconstruction of classroom blocks in various parts of the state.
Data obtained from the Enugu State Due Process agency, the body responsible for overseeing contract awards in the state, showed that both Colano Affairs and Colano Affairs Integrated Venture have no records of registration with the CAC, making the contracts awarded to the company fraudulent.
For a company to be eligible for contract bidding from the state government, a CAC certificate is required, according to the registration for on the due process portal.
SecretsReporters also discovered that different phone numbers were used as the contractor’s contact. While one of the phone numbers is said not to be allocated to any subscriber by MTN, a call to the second number was answered by one Femi Ogidan who said he knows nothing about the company. When SecretsReporters called the third line which had Mrs. Okoh as the subscriber’s name, a man answered the call and said his mother registered the line for him. He admitted to be the owner of the company and claimed that it was registered with the CAC. After series of questions, he admitted that the company name could have errors and that he was going to send the correct name. He called back about 10 minutes later to say that he could not disclose the company name over phone and insisted on meeting with the reporter in person.
Also, SecretsReporters called the phone numbers provided for enquiries on the website of the Enugu Due Process Agency. The first phone number was answered by a staff who identified himself as the site manager and disclosed that contracts uploaded before 2022 were recorded manually. He however admitted that he checked Colano Affairs on CAC and could not find the name too, noting that the issue could be from the Ministry of Education.
The second phone number on the portal was answered by one Ken Ugwu who admitted the he works with the Due Process Agency. But when he was asked if his agency verified the registration of Colano Affairs before uploading the contract details on the portal for the public, he said that his agency is not in charge of contract awarding and that he is not in the position to give further details on the matter.
Meanwhile, attempts to reach the state Ministry of Education headed by Prof Uche Eze Commissioner proved abortive as at press time.