To address
recurrent accidents on Gagi to GidanDilo and Fakon Idi roads, in Sokoto State,
the Federal Government, in the 2020 Federal Government Consolidated Project
awarded the sum of N70million to Techno International Company Limited for the
construction of the two roads. Findings reveal that the contractor not only
abandoned the project but executed it “shabbily.” This investigation also
uncovered how the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing awarded the contract to
a company whose status is inactive on the Corporate Affairs Commission
platform.

 

By ABDULRASHEED Hammad

 

Many
accidents have occurred on the Fakon Idi community road, and a recent one
happened in the presence of this reporter. Early morning in August, when this
reporter visited the Fakon Idi community, a newly constructed road and drainage
had been flooded due to heavy downpour. Muhammad Sanni, a 25-year-old
tricyclist was trying to avoid a deep pothole on the constructed road when he
found himself and his passenger inside a wide ditch. The shock absorber of his
tricycle broke. Sanni lamented about the unexpected expenses he would have to
incur to repair the vehicle and the loss of passenger’s fares due to the
accident. “You can see that I just had an accident due to this bad road. My
KekeNapep [tricycle] has broken down and my shock absorber is damaged,” Sanni
told to this reporter as he agonised over his double loss.


Muhammad
Sanni’s tricycle broke down on Fakon Idi road 

The
accident that led to the breakdown of Sanni’s tricycle was avoidable. TheFakon
Idi, Gagi and GidanDilocommunities had benefited from a N70 million allocation
for the construction of 1km township road at Fakon Idi in Sokoto north and
another 1km township road from Gagi to GidanDilo in Sokoto south captured in
the 2020 federal government consolidated project. The projects, facilitated by
the lawmaker representing Sokoto South and Sokoto North federal constituency,
Abubakar Abdullahi Ahmad is under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of
Works and Housing and awarded to Techno International Company Limited.

Newly
constructed drainage in Fakon Idi community

A
document obtained by this reporter from the Open Treasury portal shows that N58,366,520.04 had been
disbursed as the final payment for the construction and rehabilitation of the
two roads in Sokoto north and south LGAs of the state.

 

The
N70 million which was the initial budget for the completion of the two road
projects have been disbursed with the balance of N58 million released on 30,
June 2021 as final payment for the construction of the roads. Engineer
Abdulsalam Abass, an engineer with the Ministry of Works and Housing who is
familiar with the project disclosed to this reporter that the full payment of
N70m has been disbursed to the contractor for the execution of the two
projects, as shown in the award letter.

 

However,
during a visit to the project site in August, this reporter noticed that the
township road from Gagi to GidanDilo in Sokoto south had been abandoned. The
contractor had graded the road, paved it with laterite but failed to layer it
with asphalt. Residents, unhappy with the development said before the new
project, the contractor had met a better and graded laterite road.

 

Fahad
Sani, a 42-year-old pharmacist at GidanDilo community said the dust from the
road covers his shop and drugs, which makes him paint the shop quarterly. His frustration
was re-ecoed by Muhammad Mukhtar, a 35-year-old resident of Gagi community who
narrated how a motorcyclist recently knocked down his brother in the process of
dodging potholes. On his part, 50-years-old Iliyasu Mai Nama, who sells suya
[spiced meat] in the area said: “The fact that the government said the project
had been executed is not true because we are still facing a lot of challenges
due to the bad state of the road, especially during the rainy season. As a meat
seller, if it rains, I can’t prepare suya due to flooding. Also, the coloured
sand from the road settles on my meat and drives away my customers.” 

Iliyasu
Mai-Nama, a resident of Gagi community says he loses customers due to the
condition of the road


Corroborating
their story, the community leader of Gagi and GidanDilo, Bello Aliyu said he
was not consulted before work began on the road and therefore has never engaged
with the contractor. Aliyu said the road had been abandoned since December
2021.  “They didn’t do anything wallahi, our road was better than this
new one. The contractor did rubbish and went away, he didn’t do anything. Can’t
you see how bad the road is? Nobody came to me when they started the work, they
just came and started cleaning the road,” he said. 

 

The
community leader stressed the need to recall the contractor to the site. “What
we want now is they (contractor) should come back and gravel the road as it was
before. Even if we can’t have it tarred, there was a better road here, constructed
during the administration of AttahiruBafarawa, the former Governor of Sokoto
State.”

Newly
Constructed road in Gagi to GidanDilo

For
the township road at Fakon Idi in Sokoto north, residents who spoke with this
reporter described the road as “poorly executed” and the cause of recurrent
accidents.

Aliyu
Hassan, a middle-aged motorist, and resident of Fakon Idi asserted that an
accident occurred a week before, when a bike man and his passenger lost control
and fell while avoiding potholes. “Although the previous road also had
potholes, we prefer that road to this project,” he said.

 

The
community leader of Fakon Idi, Aminu Muhammad said the road had been abandoned
by the contractor and said he was never consulted before the commencement of the
project. “My people are worried about the bad state of the road, they came here
just now to complain about the road,” he said.

The
state of the new road at Fakon Idi community recently constructed by Techno
International Company Ltd.

Abandoned
road in Gagi-GidanDilo

How N58m was released to contractor
through Microfinance bank

 

A
document retrieved
from Open Treasury portal
shows that N58 million was disbursed to Regent Microfinance
Bank as final payment for the construction of Gagi to GidanDilo and Fakon Idi
roads in Sokoto south and Sokoto north LGA’s respectively.

 

The
Federal Government had released payment to Regent Microfinance Bank, even
though what appeared on the project signpost shows Techno International Company
as the contractor. Investigations online show that Regent Microfinance Bank
Limited is a bank and not a construction company. However, explaining the situation,
Architect Suara Akinola, the Deputy Director, Special Projects Unit, a unit
under the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, said some contractors have no
funds to execute projects and therefore approach Microfinance banks to borrow
money with the condition that the ministry will indemnify the bank.

 

Techno International
Company Limited
, registered with the CAC on March 19, 2006, is an inactive
company, and the nature of its business is unspecified as confirmed by
Nigeria24. The award of road construction to
this inactive company contravenes section 16 (8) (d) of the Public Procurement
Act 2007. The Act states that: “A bidder may have its bid or tender excluded if
the bidder is in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges, pensions or
social insurance contributions unless such bidders have obtained a lawful
permit in respect to allowance, the difference of such outstanding payments or
payment thereof in installments.”

State
of the newly constructed drainage on Fakon Idi road

The
CAC describes an inactive company as one that has not been carrying out any
business or has not made any significant accounting transaction in the last two
fiscal years. Also, an inactive company has not paid its annual dues in the
last two fiscal years.

 

Several
calls put across to the lawmaker representing Sokoto north and south federal
constituency, Abubakar Abdullahi Ahmad, who nominated the projects were
ignored. A text message sent to him and questions later sent to his WhatsApp
number were also ignored even after it showed that he had viewed them. Two
emails also sent to the lawmaker using iTrackMail showed that he had viewed the
mails but failed to reply to them.

 

Supervising ministry indicts
contractor

 

The
Director, Special Projects Unit (SPU), Dr Aisha Ndayako Muhammad, and Deputy
Director, Arch Suara Akinola directed this reporter to the office of the
controller in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Sokoto State.
NafiuBala, a quantity surveyor with the ministry noted that the contractor made
a mistake by not focusing on one of the two road projects, instead of doing
what he described as “half-baked work on the two projects.”  He said: “If the contractor had come earlier
to the ministry about the paucity of funds, he would have been advised to
concentrate on one road project instead.”

 

He
stated that the N70 million budgeted could not have covered the two road
projects. When asked why the ministry awarded the contract to an inactive
company, he said he could not answer the question because he didn’t know much
about it. Despite showing him snapshots of the road projects on the Fakon Idi
community which residents described as “poorly executed,” he said he could not
say the project was poorly executed unless he sees the prescription in the bill
of quantity which he said would determine if the road was poorly executed or
not.

 

However,
the project coordinator at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Engineer
IsholaAdekola, indicted the contractor saying despite the full release of funds
for asphaltic road in GidanDilo, the contractor had done a “shabby work by
doing partly asphaltic and partly surface dressing.” He disclosed that surface
dressing is a temporary road that is different from the asphaltic road
contained in the bill of quantity.

 

“We
have written to the contractor to come and put the portion that fails into
order,” he said adding that 562 meters was expected to be covered on the two
roads based on the bill of quantity but said the contractor was allowed to do
half of the 562 meters on one road and cover the remaining half on the second
road. 

 

Engineer
Adekola said when the ministry informed him of allegations of poor execution of
the project at Fakon Idi road after an official mail with accompanying pictures
was sent by this reporter, he had immediately dispatched an engineer to visit
the site. He stressed that if the ministry confirms that the road on Fakon Idi
was poorly executed, the ministry will call the attention of the contractor to
amend it.

 

When
asked why the ministry awarded the road projects to an inactive company on the
CAC portal, he said: “I can’t say it is active on CAC or not. My own is that if
the contract is awarded, the ministry will forward the award letter to me to
prepare the scope of work. I am still trying to get the phone number of the
engineer of the company.”

 

He,
however, added that out of N70 million released to the contractor, a 7.5
percent vat, had been deducted with tax and stamp duty amounting to 13.5
percent. He said the profit margin for the contractor will also be removed
while the remaining funds is what is expected to execute the project. He
disclosed that the ministry has retained funds for the amendment of projects
with defects. 

 

This
reporter gathered that the ministry had dispatched Engineer Abdulsalam Abass to
inspect the projects. Engineer Abass and the controller, NafiuBala were said to
have visited the locations of the roads on the 24th August. Engineer Abass had
sent pictures of their assessment to this reporter and admitted that the Fakon
Idi road was “poorly executed” based on their findings. He stressed that the
contractor will be sent back to site for amendment. He also confirmed that the
contractor did a “half-baked work” at Gagi to GidanDilo road by constructing a
partly asphalt and partly surface dressing road which he said was contrary to
what was stated in the bill of quantity. He described a surface dressing as a
temporary measure of road finishing while saying asphalt is a permanent road
finishing.

The
signpost of the road projects

The
signpost of the road projects

Contractor Reacts

The
address of Techno International Company which appeared on the CAC platform is
Block 12, Flat 15, Kano Street, Garki, Abuja, FCT and the names of the four
directors of the company appeared as Yusuf Tijani, Yusuf Akeem, Yusuf Umoru,
and Yusuf Muhammed as retrieved from the
Nigeria24 website.

 

While
speaking with one of the
engineers of Techno
International Company,
before reaching out to the Ministry of Works and Housing,
he declined comment on the project, insisting on a physical meeting with this
reporter in Abuja. The engineer by the name Aminu Galadima said: “I am not the
one that awarded and commissioned the project. You can go to the ministry of
works. I am sorry, I can’t talk,” he said and hung up the call. The details of
the projects sent to him through WhatsApp were also ignored.

 

However,
our correspondent also reached out to KingslyIbuzo, one of the supervising
engineers with Techno International Company Limited who said it was incorrect
to describe the road project at Gagi to GidanDilo as well as that of Fakon Idi
as abandoned or poorly executed and referred this reporter to the ministry.

 When
he was challenged on the status of his company on the CAC portal, he asked this
reporter to get his findings correct, and warned this journalist never to call
him again.

“Do
you know how much we pay for taxes every year? Go and verify it. Go to Federal
Inland Revenue Service or CAC, whatever. Tell them to update their portal. I
know how much I have paid and the document they give. You are talking of a
portal, who requested a portal when you were looking for a job contract? They
request CAC and taxes. If they don’t update their portal, how is it my
business? How is this your business?” he said angrily before he hung up the
call.

Efforts
made by this reporter to reach Aminu Galadima and KingslyIbuzo after the
Federal Ministry of Works confirmed that their company, Techno International Company Limited had poorly executed the contract
were ignored. They neither answered calls nor responded to text messages.
MrGaladima had viewed the message sent to him on WhatsApp but did not reply. A
text message and WhatsApp message sent to MrIbuzo were both ignored. 

 

 

This
report is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and
the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR

 




 


 


 


 



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