The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has responded to a petition sent to the Senate by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), alleging a fraudulent payment of N151 million by the ministry for a project the church did as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Osun State.
Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s RCCG had raised the alarm over the alleged reimbursement to the construction firm, Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited, insisting that the company claimed the sum of N151,508,901.22 as payment for the rehabilitation of the Ife-Ifewara road, which the church constructed.
The church urged the senate to compel the firm to refund the money it collected to the coffers of the federal government, saying it was shocked when it found out that somebody was trying to defraud the Nigerian state by claiming money for a project he never executed.
But appearing before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, in Abuja, Fashola maintained that no payment had been made by the current administration with respect to the rehabilitation of the road.
A statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Boade Akinola, quoted the minister as telling the lawmakers that the contract was awarded to Cartill Construction five years before the Muhammadu Buhari administration and six years before he was appointed as minister of works and housing.
The statement added that Fashola countered the allegation by the RCCG that monies were paid to the contractor, saying that the then minister of works only approved the mandatory 15 per cent mobilization fee on 31st March, 2011.
He explained another payment was made after the work had reached about 26.21 per cent on December 29, 2011, stressing that the payments were made four years before the Buhari’s administration.
Fashola said the ministry did not make any refund or certify any work done between 2016 and 2019, adding that the road in question was not a federal road but was initiated as a parliamentary constituency project which was domiciled in the budget of the ministry.
Fashola maintained that there was no basis for the petition by way of facts or evidence, explaining that there are procedures to be followed in intervening when it relates to federal and state roads.
The statement further quoted Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, who sent in the petition on behalf of the general overseer, as apologising to the minister saying that the petition was not targeted at him.
It stated that Adebanjo said the petition was only meant to expose some perceived sharp practices, stressing that the church was of the opinion that the federal government approved another payment for the road which was indeed rehabilitated free of charge.
“The rehabilitation of the road was awarded and paid for by Pastor Enoch Adeboye, hence any further claim by any company should be seen as illegal and unjust.
“The ministry of works and housing deserves an apology from us and because the whole world is listening to us, I tender that apology unreservedly,” the ministry spokesperson quoted him as saying.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Patrick Akinyelure, in his remarks, said the purpose of the public hearing was to clear all grey areas regarding payments that were alleged to be paid by the ministry and not to witch-hunt anybody. [This Day]