N76bn uncompleted building: EFCC has cleared me, says perm sec

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Mohammed Bello Umar, who was accused of “serious misconduct” while serving as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has replied to the Federal Government, saying he did no wrong.

The PUNCH reports that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, had, on the order of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), queried Umar for allegedly buying “uncompleted carcass” building for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the sum of N7bn.

He was also accused of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3bn to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements,” among other allegations.

But Umar, in a six-page response, dated May 14, 2020, denied all the allegations leveled against him.

He said, “l, by way of conclusion, further state that I am not liable to any of the allegations contained there in the query. They are mere concoction based on malice for whatever reason best known to the perpetrators.

“While thanking you for the opportunity given to me to make my representation, please accept the assurances of my loyalty always and pledge to continue to abide by the Public Service Rules.”

On the allegation of buying an uncompleted building for N7bn, Umar claimed due process was followed in the purchase.

He noted that the company forwarded expression of interest and the building was inspected by management which agreed to set up a process for acquiring the building.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing was written to give valuation/determine the price and conduct its integrity test which they did.

“Thereafter, FMARD sent to Bureau for Public Procurement to ascertain their own value and give letter of no objection. Copy of BPP Due Process Review Report and Certificate of No Objection attached as Annexures IV & V.

“We wrote to Abuja Lands department AGlS, the branch of FCDA saddled with responsibility of ascertaining land title, land use and authenticity of ownership, which they replied.”

He added, “We wrote Development Control, the FCDA branch saddled with responsibility of giving building plan approval and monitoring all building projects for conformity to standard, they replied (vide copy attached as Annex VI) us in the affirmative.

“After submission of recommendation to the Minister of Agriculture, he approved that council memo be made to that effect. We then sent the memo to the Secretary to Government of the Federation who then scheduled it for Federal Executive Council Approval.

“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council approved (vide Council Extract attached as Annex VII) the purchase of the building.”

He said he had been interrogated and cleared by the EFCC and ICPC on the matter.

On the allegation of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3bn to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements” and took one for himself, Umar said it was “entirely false and he who asserts should prove that l took any rig for myself.”

The permanent secretary also said contrary to the claim in the query, all contractors whose contracts were captured in the 2018 budgetary allocation, were paid in accordance with budgetary releases while those whose contracts were ongoing were rolled over as ongoing.

PUNCH

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