Network for Growth and actualization of Viable Development (NEFGAD), a public procurement advocacy group, has threatened to take legal action against the embattled Minister of Interior, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo’s over his involvement in the controversial N3 billion contract awarded by the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, insisting that his defense his faulty and unsatisfactory.
The Minister had denied personally benefitting through his company, New Planet Project Limited from the sum of 438.1 million from the alleged controversial N3 billion social register contracts by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
NEFGAD in a statement signed by its acting Head of Legal, Dolapo Obafunmi and released to the media at the weekend in Abuja stated that Mr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo who is a shareholder in the New Planet Project Limited contravened Section 16 subsection 6(f) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 by failing to accompany documents used in bidding for the contract with an affidavit disclosing whether or not Dr. Betta Edu who is a member of the procuring entity has any pecuniary interest in New Planet Project Limited – the company where Mr. Tunji-Ojo, a cabinet colleague, is a shareholder.
Obafunmi also said that Mr. Tunji-Ojo’s company bid ought to have been disqualified for violating Section 16 subsection 8(g) of the same PPA by failing to submit a statement regarding its dominating or subsidiary relationships with respect to Dr. Beta Edu who is acting on behalf of the procuring entity participating in same proceeding.
Obafunmi noted that New Planet Project Limited, with registration number 804833 was reportedly registered on March 3, 2009, although the Minister said he has resigned as director of the company since 2019, he is still a shareholder in the company.
Obafunmi said that the Public Procurement Act in its bid to promote competition forbids a bidder and or any member of procuring entity from conferring undue advantage to themselves during any procurement proceeding by virtue of their relationships.
He averred that one of the core objectives and spirit of the public procurement Law is to ensure that nation’s wealth is fairly distributed, maintaining that it is a sheer act of undue interference, greed and avarice to have a serving cabinet member interfering in affairs of sister Ministry to an extent of influencing its procurement decision in his favour.
He further maintained that beyond participating in the day to day running of a company, being a shareholder means Mr Tunji-Ojo is a person of control and benefit in the company and by virtue of his shareholding status, he ought to have simply complied with the relevant sections of the public procurement law by declaring his interest in the company simply via a court affidavit.
Obafunmi said ‘’with these blatant breaches, it shows clearly that fundamental principles of public procurement were not followed in the award of the contract, everything about the contract is defective, making it impossible to achieve fitness of purpose or value for money.
He said: “Mr. Tunji Ojo should also know that his cabinet membership is ordinarily influential enough to sway cabinet colleague’s procurement decision in his favour hence calling the Minister to honorably apologise to Nigerians and resign immediately or face legal action.