N270 MILLION GRASS CUTTING SCANDAL: DETAILS OF HOW SGF BABACHIR GOT ONLY N7 MILLION; CATBAN INVESTIGATION REVEALS.

Secret Reporters

Following allegations by the Nigeria Senate that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal was paid the staggering sum of N270 million through his company, Rholavision to cut invasive grass in the North East, a civil society organisation decided to engage on fact findings.

Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) in a press briefing which held in Sheraton Hotel unearthed their findings. According to the Co-Convener of the group, Ibrahim Garba Wala, the contract given to the SGF was not for cutting of grass at the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, but was just a misrepresentation of the contract by PINE through the terminologies used on the contract award paper. Though the affair is generally referred to as grass cutting contract to clear grass at IDP camps, evidence at their disposal debunk this assertion.

Documents which was shown at the press briefing indicate that the contract was clearly stated as: “Award of Contract For The Removal of Inversive (invasive) plants along River Channels & 115 Hectares of Simplified Village Irrigation Operation In Yobe State”

The documents show that the contract was not awarded to Rholavision. It was awarded to Josmon Technologies Limited with address at 9, Moputo Street, 3RD Floor, Fames-Jal Plaza, Wuse Zone 3,Abuja.

Again, CATBAN alleged that documents gotten from PINE showed that Rholavision was not the main contractor that got the job. Rholavision was engaged only as a consultant even though the Senate Committee created the impression that the company of the SGF executed the contract.

The letter from PINE was titled: “Award of Contract For The Engagement of MSSRS Rholavision Engineering Limited As A Consultant” and reads: “ I wish to convey to you the approval for award of contract to you as a Consultant on Removal of Invasive Plant Specie along River Channels and 115 Hectares of Simplified Village Irrigation Operation in Yobe State at the cost of Seven Million, Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixteen Naira, Ninety-Six kobo(7,009,516.96) only, inclusive of all taxes, for the period of six (6) Weeks.

The letter was also signed by Aminu Ahmed, (Head of Procurement, PINE).

In a comprehensive report, CATBAN disclosed that the hunt for the removal of the SGF by the Senate has political undertone.

LIKE SURE-P: POLITICAL INTRIGUES, CORRUPTION AND CONSTITUENCY PROJECT WAR

“Our findings revealed that corruption which usually trails federal contracts channeled to states is at the heart of this crisis. We found out that some officials of one of the states in the region does not want PINE contracts awarded to independent companies, but rather that the funds from PINE should be allocated to their state through them directly. We understand this is why one of the state government officials specifically told the Senate Committee that PINE had not done anything in their state despite our on the spot assessment which shows clear evidence of clearing/evacuation of invasive plant species & irrigation operation on 115 Hectares of land. We have video evidence & pictures to show the state of the invasive plants in the river channels and the newly cleared channels. There is also evidence of the list of those who participated in the project and benefitted from the work.
We further learnt that though the Senate Committee have facts about the contract in question and are aware that Rholavision just got a consultancy job for Seven Million Naira, they continually put up the impression to the public that Rholavision got as much as the total contract sum for the execution of the project. Evidently speaking, they refused to mention the fee for the consultancy being seven million Naira.

We also found out that soon after President Muhammadu Buhari came into office, Engr. Babachir Lawal did a head count of the personnel at the PINE control center in Abuja. He instituted an investigation into their activities, and found out about the huge issues related to corruption within the management, under the office of the former National Security Adviser where PINE was domiciled. Already, it was realized the One Billion naira had already been embezzled through award of loans to fictitious NGOs formed by most of the personnel within. He therefore recommended a review of their operations which led to the merger of PINE with Victim Support Fund. President Buhari finally approved the formation of PCNI as the latest interventionist agency under the leadership of General TY Danjuma”.

WAS THE CONTRACT ACTUALLY DONE?

The contract for the manual removal of invasive water species at the Hadejia Kamadugu River channel that was awarded to Josmon Technical Nigeria Ltd commenced on 5th March 2016 and was completed on 19th March 2016. The handing over ceremony of distributing pumping and irrigation machines and engine boats was conducted the same day.
Mallam Hussaini Danjuma is the contractor that executed and supervised the manual removal of invasive species in the waterways. He disclosed to us that Josmon Engineering Nigeria Ltd went to IDP camps in Yobe and Borno States and brought almost 3840 workers who were employed to go into the water and manually remove the thypa grass from the water and clear them. The exercise took 3 weeks of extensive work nonstop. After the contract was concluded, a lot of the displaced persons just recently settled in the host communities.

According to the Mallam Husseini Lawal, aside from clearing the thypa grass from the water and opening up all the blockages, PINE also dug 115 boreholes across all the communities and wired 115 hectares of land with 45 inches of 2 inch pipes, 115 irrigation pumps, 12 power boats and 49 locally made boats (canoes) which were distributed amongst communities in Bade, Karasuwa, Jakusko and Nguru Local Governments. Malam Ali Ado of the Presidential Initiative on the North East who himself is an indigene of Nguru Local Government, pointed out the fact that the thypa is a specie of grass that was brought in by Eurasian migratory birds from Europe and Canada sometime in the early 80s.

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