Premium Times, is exclusively reporting that an Agency headed by President Buhari’s in-law, Junaid Abdullahi, has been caught in the procurement fraud.
The report revealed that 815 Contractors were recently shortlisted by the Border Communities Development Agency, BDCA, for hundreds of Constituency projects, despite failing to meet Federal contracting requirements.
It is the second time in less than a month, that the Agency has been exposed for procurement irregularities.
Being shortlisted presupposes that an applicant has satisfied all the criteria contained in the procurement guidelines published by a government Agency, for the award of contracts.
However, Premium Times disclosed that the bulk of the prequalified Contractors for the 2018 intervention projects by Lawmakers, did not meet the most basic criteria spelt out in the invitation to tender advert, released by the BDCA, in August 2018.
The Agency, advertised nearly 400 self-enrichment projects of Lawmakers, for which funds were earmarked in the 2018 budget.
The value of the contracts ranges between N10 million and N200 million.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s son-in-law, is the Executive Secretary of the Federal Interventionist Agency, established in 2003, to develop the country’s border communities.
The Agency has the mandate to provide social and infrastructural amenities to international border communities, in 21 States of the Federation, spanning over 105 Local Government Areas.
A list by a Technical Evaluation Team, constituted by the BDCA to select qualified Contractors for the award of the Constituency projects contracts, showed that 987 bids from various contracting firms were prequalified.
The list contained names of companies shortlisted for over 390 contract lots for the procurement and supply of various goods, works and services, in various locations across the country.
The BDCA had invited bids from prospective experienced and competent Contractors/Suppliers. They were asked to submit bids for the projects, in line with the criteria laid out clearly in the invitation-to-tender advertisement, published on July 29, 2018, for the execution of the projects, between late July and early August.
Submission of bids by prospective Contractors, was to be accompanied with a three-year tax clearance certificate validated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, with a cumulative average annual turnover of a minimum of N50 million, for the period 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Also, prospective bidders were requested to submit their current Industrial Training Fund, ITF, compliance certificate, and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, compliance certificate, all valid till December 31, 2018.
The companies were required to produce evidence of registration on the National Database of Federal Contractors, Consultants, and service providers, by submitting the Interim Registration Report, IRR, expiring January 1, 2019, or valid certificate issued by the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP.
Besides, submitted bids must be accompanied by the company’s audited accounts for 2015, 2016, and 2017, along with other documents attesting to their professional and technical competences.
Premium Times had earlier reported that the BDCA procurement officials disregarded some key criteria for selection of prospective Contractors, as well as some requirements for the award of contracts, in a potential violation of the Public Procurement Act, PPA, 2007.
Section 23 (1) of the PPA (2007), does not allow Federal Agencies or their Management, to manipulate procurement guidelines to favour any party during a contracting process.
The law says: “Where a procuring entity has made a decision with respect to the minimum qualification of suppliers, contractors or service providers, by requesting interested persons to submit applications to prequalify, it shall set out precise criteria, upon which it seeks to give consideration to the applications, and in reaching a decision as to which supplier, contractor or service provider qualifies, shall apply only the criteria set out in the prequalification documents and no more.”
Therefore, the BDCA appeared to have violated Nigeria’s procurement law, by disregarding its published guidelines for the selection of contract applications in favour of unqualified companies.
A further review of the procurement documents obtained, exposed how only about 173 bids could be considered to have met the minimum threshold for the award of the contracts advertised, out of around 988 bids received from various Contractors, and prequalified by the BDCA Technical Evaluation Team.
The 173 bids were the only applications accompanied with both evidence of current Pension Compliance Certificate, PCC, and the Company Incomes Tax Clearance Certificate, validated by the FIRS, both valid till December 31, 2018.
Of these, about 13 that did not have company Income Tax Clearance Certificates, were from companies that were already enjoying tax holiday incentives, granted by the Nigerian government, covering the three-year period.
Still, further analysis showed that about 815 of the prequalified or shortlisted bids (or over 83 percent), failed to meet at least one or the two key criteria, that define the minimum threshold specified in the bid guidelines.
At least 94 of the bids were accompanied with neither the Pension Compliance Certificate, nor Tax Clearance Certificate, the two key documents required to qualify to even enter a bid, our findings show.
Where the bids were accompanied with Tax Clearance Certificates, the cumulative average turnover of the companies, fell far below the specified benchmark of N50 million average annual turnover.
For instance, Arcad Projects Limited (Lot 110), prequalified to bid for the N200 million contract for the rehabilitation of selected rural roads in Ekiti/Irepodun/Idi/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency, was not qualified.
The company’s bid was accompanied with its PENCOM certificate only, without the requisite tax clearance document.
Similarly, SMV Nigeria Limited and Young Stallion Group Nigeria Limited (Lot 83), submitted bids for the N150 million contract for the construction of a mini-Stadiumn at Kashere, in Gombe Central Senatorial District, but both were shortlisted, despite not meeting the requirements on Tax Clearance Certificates.
Aicon Residential Limited (Lot 84), also submitted a bid for the N150 million contract for the rehabilitation/maintenance of water infrastructure, in Yobe East Senatorial District, without submitting its Tax Clearance Certificate.
ABG Synergy Limited was prequalified for the N50 million contract to supply tricycles, popularly called “Keke NAPEP”, in Monguno/Marte/Nganzi Federal Constituency of Borno State, despite not attaching any of the two vital documents to its bid.
Budmusdru Hill Nigeria Limited and Khamz Intercontinental Limited (Lot 386), shortlisted for a N100 million contract to train youths and community leaders in Niger North Senatorial District, also did not meet the requirements.
De Poor Shall Rich Nigeria Limited and Dankole Global Services (Lot 281), were shortlisted to bid for the N60 million contract to supply motorcycles in Edo Central Senatorial District, without their Tax Clearance Certificates.
Yalele Farms Limited (Lot 315), was shortlisted for the N60 million Strategic Empowerment and Training of Women and Youths, in Zaki Federal Constituency, with absolutely no requisite documentation.
Equally, Al Nady Multi-Services Limited (Lot 23), bided for the Solar lights contract, in Gada/Goronyo Federal Constituency; Nitux Engineering Services Limited (Lot 68) for the provision and installation of solar street lights, in Abia Central Senatorial District, and AIAG Energy Limited (Lot 135) for the supply of Toyota Hilux pick-up vans, at Kaga/Gubio/Magumeri Federal Constituency (each worth N50 million), without either Pension or Tax Clearance Certificates.
Yet, there are bids that met all the requirements, but were deliberately excluded from the list of those prequalified or shortlisted by the Agency.