Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has dismissed alleged payment of N151million to a firm for a road rehabilitated by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Osun State.
Fashola in his submission before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, probing the allegation, said the claim by the church was untrue.
He said the 15-kilometer road was awarded to Messrs Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited at the cost of N662.7million by the Federal Government in 2011.
He said the Ministry paid N99million as 15% mobilisation fee and N52million to the contractor after the firm achieved 26.2 per cent of work done on the road in March and December 2011, respectively.
He insisted that the award of the contract and the subsequent payments to the contractor predated President Muhammdu Buhari administration.
He said the project was abandoned because there were times when no money was budgeted for the project.
“This is a petition, on the basis of what has been shown, that could have been resolved by a simple letter written on the Freedom of Information Act but in spite of the fact that you gave this out to Nigerians, the petitioner chose to come here, go to the pages of newspapers and essentially put our collective integrity as a ministry and as a government under needless scrutiny.
“The facts have shown that there is no basis for this. The allegations as reported are essentially false.
“They bother on defamation and I hope that the petitioner after listening to this will do the right thing and tender an apology. I think he got his facts all mixed up,” Fashola said.
In response to the petition, Fashola insisted that it is clear that contrary to the claims of the RCCG, “the contractor, Cartill Construction Nigeria Limited, did not make a claim for a refund for the cost expended on the rehabilitation of the road between 2016 and 2019.
“The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing did not make any payment to Cartill Construction Nigeria Limited as a refund for the construction of the road between 2016 and 2019.
“The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing did not certify any work done on the road by the Contractor between 2016 and 2019.
“The two payments made to Cartill Construction Nigeria Limited were made on 31 March 2011 and 29 December 2011 respectively, four (4) years before the commencement of this Administration in 2015.
“The road in question is not a Federal Road under the Federal Highways Act.
“The road is a state road under the constitutional and administrative jurisdiction of the Osun State Government.
“The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing did not consider or grant approval for anyone to intervene on the road.
“The petitioner, RCCG, did not seek or obtain the approval of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing prior to or during the rehabilitation of the Road.
“As at 2010 when the contract for the road was awarded by the Federal Government, it was initiated as Parliamentary Constituency Project and domiciled in the budget of the Ministry, hence the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
“The Federal Government via the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing is not liable to make any refund to anyone in respect of the Road which is the statutory responsibility of the Osun State Government.
“The Legal Department of the Ministry is in the process of commencing legal actions against the Contractor for breach of the agreed terms of contract between it and the Ministry.”