The National Examination Council (NECO) is in the eye of the storm again over alleged N6.5billion contract award without due process.
This was stated in the 2017 Audit Report submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.
Office of Auditor General of the Federation had in an earlier report treated by the Senate Thursday alleged the examination body had spent N7.2billion on examination materials January 2017 without any documents to show for such payments.
At another session on Friday, the upper legislative chamber confronted the NECO Registrar, Professor Godswill Obioma, with another damning report of alleged N6.5 contracts award without due process.
The contracts in question as contained in the 2017 Audit report and read out by the Chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP Edo South) awere the printing of security and non-security documents.
Senator Urhoghide said based on report before the committee, NECO was not able to present any record to show that approval was granted for the contract in the first item costing about N451 million.
“In the second contract that cost about N6.1 billion, no quotations were collected from three bidders, taxes were not deducted from some of the contract payments.
“There was no Technical and Financial evaluation. Evidence of placement of advertisement was not attached to either payment vouchers or contract files. The amount expended was above the threshold of the Council and the contracts were split as some contracts were awarded to same contractor with LPO and work order issued on the same date.”
The committee said: “Examination of records and documents revealed that the Commission’s Tenders Board approved the award of contract for printing of security materials in the sum of N451 million to a company in March 2017 in contravention of provisions of Federal Government Circular No.SGF/OP/I/S.3/XI/849 of 16th January, 2016 which reiterated the approved revised thresholds for service wide application, for which the Parastatal Tender Board can only exercise authority on works whose value is less than N250 million while any sum above this, is to be referred to the Ministerial Tenders Board for approval.
“We sought for the authority for the above approval including the Ministerial approval but none was provided.
“The above unilateral award of contracts without following due process may lead to awarding contracts to unqualified contractors. Recommendation The Registrar/CEO should be sanctioned in line with provisions of Financial Regulation 3117.”
In the second query, it was observed that the “examination of contracts awarded for the printing of Security and Non- Security Documents valued at ₦6,166,405,407.42 revealed that the contracts were awarded without compliance with the provisions of PART VI, Section 24 (I) of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2017 as amended, which states that except as provided by this Act, all procurements of goods and works by all procuring entities shall be conducted by open competitive bidding.
“The following irregularities were also noted, Quotations were not collected from three bidders as required by PPA 2007, Taxes were not deducted from some of the contract payments. iii. There was no Technical and Financial evaluation, Evidence of placement of advertisement was not attached to either payment vouchers or contract files.
“The amount expended was above the threshold of the Council, The contracts were split as some contracts were awarded to same contractor with LPO and work order issued on the same date.”
But in his response, the NECO Registrar said the N461 million component of the contract “were payments to Data Science Nigeria Limited for the supply of Optical Mark Readers for objectives questions paper for various examinations conducted by the Council but failed to justify payment for it , making the Committee to sustain the query against the Examination body and asked for the refund.”
On the N6.1 billion query, Professor Obioma said: “The contracts for the printing for our questions are awarded through selective tendering. This is the case to avoid leakages of our examinations and award of contract to printers of doubted integrity.”
Also not satisfied with his explanations, the committee as declared by its chairman, sustained the query for lack of convincing defence.