Following the ₦1billion Adamawa Streetlight Fraud Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to probe allegations of misappropriation of execution of “untraceable” contracts in Adamawa State, as well as review the audit law currently used in the country to strengthen its anti-corruption fight.
The allegations came to the fore following an investigative report by the Director of Rural Health Accountability, Elijah Akoji, published by Wikki Times, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and Sahara Reporters.
The investigation claimed that over N1 billion meant for installing solar streetlights in Adamawa State was paid to contractors on the last day of 2019. Still, the streetlights were never installed as planned.
The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was also alleged to have paid the sum of N217,749,257.14 to each of the fiing during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
In Abuja, Akoji called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to deploy anti-graft agencies to go after all the contractors indicted in the corruption.
On what should be the Federal Government’s approach to bringing all and sundry involved in the alleged stealing of over N1 billion streetlight contracts in Adamawa to book, Akoji had these to say: “the best way to go is to ensure that contractors are dealt with, shamed and named. Once a contractor’s name is mentioned in any procurement fraud, the EFCC should pick the contractor up.
“ICPC, on their part, should also bring down these people. By the time directors of companies are arrested, whatever happens behind the scene, we will follow up until they are in the public domain.”
According to Akoji, the projects were supposedly meant to boost development in line with SDGs goal seven, noting that “the Adamawa streetlight projects were not captured in the Federal Government budget of 2019, but the contractors were paid in full all at once.
“The money came from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and was released on December 31, 2019.”
Akoji disclosed that citizens interviewed in Adamawa state during the investigation said they were not aware of any streetlight project since 2019. He also stated that the over 100 pictures presented by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs following the investigation were false and doctored.
He revealed that he has been under threat by different individuals since the investigative report was published.
Adamawa Streetlight Fraud
On his part, the Programme Officer at Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, Abdullahi Adebayo, called on President Buhari to work towards preventing corruption rather than fighting corruption after it had taken place.
Adebayo, who noted that procurement fraud was taking a massive toll on the country’s development, asked the government to immediately review the audit law of the country as it will help in curbing public sector corruption. He noted that Nigeria’s actualization of SDGs in 2030 remains largely unlikely if corruption is not reduced to the barest minimum.
His words: “My advice to President Buhari is to tackle corruption, it is easier to prevent corruption than to fight corruption, and that is why we really need the audit bill; Nigeria is still using the 1956 Audit Bill, and that is obsolete, that is a major problem.
“If we have a modern audit bill that guarantees the Auditor General independence to work and has a timely release of audit reports, I feel the level of corruption will reduce drastically.”