The Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN has written to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) promising “to refer the request for details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects to the Ministry’s agencies for necessary action and appropriate response.”
Mr Fashola’s latest response followed his letter to SERAP last month in which he said: “We have searched the Ministry’s record and the information you applied for is not held by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power Sector).”
However, SERAP disagreed with the response, saying: “The public expectation is that government information, when is in the hands of any public institutions and agencies, should be available to the public, as prescribed by the FOI Act. The FOI Act should always be used as an authority for disclosing information rather than withholding it.”
In his response to SERAP’s reaction, Mr Fashola said: “The Ministry’s letter to your organization was not an attempt to deny the request for information. The Ministry is committed to comply with the Laws of Nigeria including the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. The Ministry will refer your request to its agencies for necessary action and appropriate response.”
Mr Fashola’s letter dated 4th March, 2019 and signed on his behalf by Louis O.N. Edozien, Permanent Secretary (Power) read in part: I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 8th February 2019 which is in response to the Ministry’s letter dated January 2019.”
“There may be instances of part-payment against certification of commensurate value for materials and services in achieved contract milestone even though the entire contract is not 100% performed.
“But the Ministry does not have a record of any contractors that collected 100% payment and failed to execute a contract. The Ministry’s procurement and contract administration processes are strictly guided by relevant regulations that require the Ministry to ensure Advanced Payment is limited to 15% of the contract sum and is backed by an Advanced Payment Bank Guarantee (APG).
“Our regulations also require the Ministry to release any APG only after recovery of commensurate value of contracted materials and services from the contractors who provided the APG. We make payments only upon certification of receipt of commensurate value for materials and services from the contractor”.
SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “We welcome Mr Fashola’s latest response, and look forward to the Ministry’s agencies getting to the root of the matter by publishing without further delay details of alleged corrupt contractors and companies, as contained in our FOI request.”
It would be recalled that Mr Fashola had earlier said in response to SERAP’s FOI request that: “the Ministry has searched for the requested information on details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects, but we could not find it from our records.”
Mr Fashola’s initial response followed SERAP’s FOI request and suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 filed last month at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. The suit is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Mr Fashola to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”