PSC Chair, Smith, in trouble over ‘contract scam’ as Commissioner petitions EFCC

These are not the best of times for the PSC Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC), IGP Musiliu Smith (retd.) as he faces probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following a petition by a member of the commission.

Blueprint information has it that a commissioner with the PSC, Naja’atu Bala Muhammad, petitioned the anti-graft body over alleged multi-million naira contract scam and other corrupt practices at the commission under the leadership of the former police boss.

Naja’atu, who is representing North-west, accused the commission’s chairman of mismanagement of resources and breach of due process by arbitrarily awarding bogus contracts in a petition dated June 29, 2022.

According to her, the commission’s chairman does not have power to approve expenditure for and on-behalf of the PSC except as has been approved by the commission’s management.

She noted that the management committee responsible for approving expenditures, especially of capital nature, has only met twice since its inauguration in 2018.

“The Management Committee is akin to the Federal Executive Council where government expenditures are approved. Sections 12, 13, and 14 of the Commission provide for the funds and expenditure of the Commission.

“However, since we came in as Commissioners four years ago, management meeting has only been held twice,” she stated.

Naja’atu further stated in the petition that, “On May 11, 2022, without the Management Committee approval, the PSC Chairman awarded or caused to be awarded a contract and paid the sum of N34,749,375 being payment of 50 per cent down payment made to EMPLUG LTD for the design and development of police e-recruitment portal for the Commission.

“The contract was awarded regardless of a memo stating clearly that the ICT Department designed the website free of charge and has the capability for upgrade. Yet, due to the fraudulent intentions embedded in the decision, a contract was awarded to do the same thing that the ICT department has already done.

“Another contract payment of major concern is the payment of N36,228,453.90 to Wedewood Integrated Investment Limited as the final payment of less than 5 per cent retention fee for the partitioning of office space, installation of wall panel and customised cabinet at the PSC head office building.

“The total sum of this contract paid to the contractor is N447,473,613.00 without due process or management approval. The payment voucher is attached as Annexure 17.”

She further alleged that: “From the Commission’s account No.2994350018 fraudulent transfers of about N200 million were made to Vita Construction between 9th April 2021 and 14th April 2021 in the tranches of N10 million.

“These payments are typical of the fraud being perpetuated. The reasons for the payment are unknown to the management of the Commission as no approval for payment was given by the management for this expense.

“In your investigation, you will request for the contract executed by this company for the Commission to justify such payments and review the process through which the contract was awarded.

“From the same approval that paid Ogo Edward, a staff of the Commission N7,000,000.00 for the procurement of COVID-19 Protective items, approval was also given and he was paid the sum of N25,000,000.00 for security and other related matter in respect of 2020 Police Recruitment Medical Screening Exercise.

“It must be noted that security coverage is provided by the various Police Commands or Zonal Commands for all Police Recruitment and the associated exercises.

“The question that the Chairman and the Permanent Secretary need to answer is when did it become the responsibility of the Commission to provide security for these exercises,” the petition read in part.

When contacted, the EFCC Spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said he could not confirm that the petition was with the anti-graft body.

According to him, “Petitions don’t pass through my office.”

However, the PSC Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, confirmed the receipt of the petition by the commission.

“The requests, approvals and expenditures were carried out in line with government approved financial regulations.

“Those that required the approval of the Ministerial Tenders Board were brought before the Board and approval received.

“Some others got the certificate of no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement. Approvals were also officially granted for Staff and Members of the Commission to execute some special projects such as Police Recruitment.

“The payments for this special assignment were retired according to laid down rules. But ironically the Petitioner is confirmed to be in default of this,” he told Blueprint correspondent.

Ani added that, “The Commission is putting together a response on the petition for the attention of government.”

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