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N9.3bn wasn’t paid to microfinance bank under me – Umahi

Minister of Works, David Umahi, says the project that led to the disbursement of N9.3bn to a Microfinance Bank by the ministry of Works was…

Minister of Works, David Umahi, says the project that led to the disbursement of N9.3bn to a Microfinance Bank by the ministry of Works was not awarded when he assumed office.

Recall that Tracka, BudgIT’s service delivery promotion platform, had exposed how the Federal Ministry of Works paid N9.3bn to FIMS Microfinance Bank Ltd in violation of the 2007 procurement law.

The release of the funds for 62 projects was made between June and December 2023.

Tracka stated that some of these projects include “the payment of N1.4bn in September 2023 for the construction of Yaba-Yangoje Road in the Federal Capital Territory; N1.2bn in October 2023 for the rehabilitation of a 2km road from Oriawo-boroboro-oke-medina School of Science Road in Atiba, Oyo state; N1.2bn in October 2023 for the rehabilitation of Kosobo-awe Junction Road in Oyo East LGA in Oyo state and N1.2bn between August and November 2023 for the rehabilitation of Ejule-otukpo road in Benue State to mention a few.”

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Tracka added that according to its mission statement and the information on its website, FIMS Microfinance Bank Ltd. was incorporated on December 11, 2009, to conduct microfinance businesses/services with a certificate of incorporation number RC 858800.

“As a financial institution, the award of road construction contracts amongst others to this company is a violation of the Public Procurement Act 2007, ” BudgIT’s Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, had said while calling on anti-graft agencies to question and probe the payments as well as prosecute the erring officers.

But while clarifying, the minister said he was in the senate when the first payment was made in June.

He said the ministry acted in accordance with the law as the payment was made for service delivered by contractors and not for contract awarded to the bank itself.

“There are issues with the report because up to 20th of August, I was in the senate. When a contractor has done his or her work, the money becomes his money, he can say, pay it to this bank or another. So, they are being mischievous. If they are asking whether the job has been done, that is reasonable and a right to provide an answer but they do not have the right to say where a contractor will say his money will be paid. Whether it is paid into a microfinance bank or not, without prejudice that I don’t have the facts about the jobs, they have no right to say it is paid into a microfinance bank.”

He added that the information was a distraction, alleging that it is the work of bad contractors to fight back.

“The jobs were never done by me, payments were not done by me and even if it was me, if the jobs were done and the certificate generated; deployed to the platform and it was appropriated and money was released against the project, then they have no right to question where it was paid.”

“In all the states. It is our policy that the state governors through their appointed officials must mark off any project especially the emergency projects. When the contractor has completed a job, no matter how big it is. My advice for the governor is to come to the site and look at it before it gets to our office for payment, where this procedure is not done, I will not sign any generated certificate. So, we have invited the public to also be a part of the monitoring,” he said.

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