It was gathered that the Senate on Tuesday launched a probe into the alleged abandonment of an N8bn Code of Conduct Bureau permanent site under construction for the purchase of a building valued at N9bn.
The lawmaker representing Kogi-West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, who moved the motion for the probe during the day’s plenary, alleged that after the CCB got an approval from the National Executive Council to build its permanent site, the contract for its permanent site was reviewed upwardly from over N3bn to over N8bn.
He added that after the contract was awarded and over N1.4bn (representing about 16 per cent of the contract sum) had been paid to the contractor, the bureau had abandoned the construction project which had reached 10 per cent completion.
“Surprisingly, in the 2016 budget, the CCB, rather than investigate why the work done on site was not commensurate with the money released, requested for the purchase of a new building to serve as the permanent site, thereby abandoning completely the ongoing construction exercise,” Melaye alleged.
The senator, who claimed to be in possession of documents to buttress the veracity of his claim, said it should be investigated.
Melaye said, “The Senate notes with serious concern the dumping of N8bn office headquarters project by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“The Senate is aware that the Code of Conduct Bureau, after spending over N1bn on the construction of the office complex headquarters, with complete approval by the Federal Capital Development Authority; with design by the Federal Capital Territory Administration and supervision ongoing by the FCT, has opted to purchase a completed nine-storey building located in the Central Business District of Abuja, just as the abandoned one is also located in the same business district.
“The Senate observes that the bureau, apart from the ongoing construction project of the headquarters, was evaluated and awarded in the sum of N3,509,327,405, out of which a total sum of N1,407,263,884 representing 16 per cent of the of the contract sum had been paid, while the cumulative job done to date is estimated at 10 per cent.
“The Senate is aware that in spite of the due releases to the bureau in the 2016 budget, the bureau went for the sum of N4.4bn to buy the nine-storey building.
“The Senate is worried that the action by the CCB in the whole exercise is not expected of an institution that is supposed to watch over the finance of the society by checking corrupt practices in the Nigerian public service.”
Melaye prayed the Senate to mandate its Committees on Federal Capital Territory, and on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to do a holistic investigation into the matter and report back to the Senate.
The Deputy President of the Senate, who presided over the plenary, said since it was still an allegation, it might be prejudicing the outcome of the investigation to subject the matter to a debate.
He said, “This Senate recognises the absolute need for the bureau to have a befitting office. I think the issue now is whether there is an ongoing project being abandoned in preference to purchasing an existing one. We are here to ensure that public finances are appropriately spent.”
Ekweremadu therefore ruled that the Senate Committees on Public Procurement, on FCT and on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions conduct the probe and report back to the lawmakers in two weeks.