Reps lampoon River Basin Development Authorities over auction of assets

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LAGOS HERALD The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives has queried the country’s River Basin Development Authorities for allowing the auction of its multi-billion naira assets by the Minister for Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu.

Adamu had appeared before the House Committee on June 16 June 2022 and admitted before the Committee that the Ministry erred in law when it ordered the auction of government properties in the twelve River Basin Development Authorities across the country.

He, however, claimed that he was not aware of the provisions of Section 55 of the Public Procurement Act which vested powers solely on the Development Authorities to make such decisions concerning their agencies.

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Chairman of the Committee, Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun) made the disclosure on Monday, while reviewing submissions made by Sokoto Niger Basın Authority, Upper Niger Basın Authority Minna, Lower Benue Makurdi, and Upper Rivers Basın Port Harcourt.

Oke noted that it was wrong for the Ministry to have given only four Auctioneers several billion naira worth of assets at a total sum of N137,235,746.50, a figure which was a far cry from the valuation of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAUGF).

He had sought to know whether the management of the four River Basin Development Authorities that appeared before the committee willingly auctioned the property of the agencies; pointing out that it was a crime in the eye of the law for them to allow another person to perform their duties without recourse to the law.

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According to him, “Your Minister was here last week and admitted that he actually raped the law. He apologised and said he did not that aware this law actually exists. How can you just carry auctioneers, and give them government property to auction?

Is the Minister for Water Resources the same as Upper Niger Basin Development Authority? They went to Abeokuta and carried the property belonging to Nigerians and they admitted that we have 12 River Basin Development Authorities.

The Auctioneers were here and we asked them how they knew that the items will be auctioned. Where is the advertisement you responded to? How many auctioneers do we have in Nigeria and why is it just four that were selected to do the auction? Your colleague from Abeokuta, Ogun State, was rushing to defend the Ministry,” he said.

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“They carried out the auction without recourse to the provisions of the law. It is this same law that sent Bode George and his co-travellers at NPA to jail. It is the same law that earned Ngilari that we wrote the law together in 2003 a sentence in Adamawa.

You do not wait for somebody to take over your functions because he is your supervisory ministry. The former Chairman of the Board of Ogun/Osun said he is coming to this parliament to testify of how he tried to stop them, using police and everything. Yet, they forcefully took away government property and sold them at ridiculous prices.”

In his ruling, the PAC Chairman requested that the four agencies make an appearance on the 30th of June alongside documents showing details of auction records, financial reports yet to be submitted to the OAuGF and procurement records of Zonal İntervention Projects (ZIP) from 2020 to 2021.

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