Senate probes N20bn payments to defunct Albarka Airlines, others

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It was gathered that the Senate is currently probing the payment of over N20bn “debts” to some Federal Government contractors between 2015 and 2016.

albarka-airlines

The government also planned to pay a contractor for a job executed in 1974, it was learnt.

One of the beneficiaries was Albarka Airlines, grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in December 2005, which was paid about N1bn in two installments in 2015.

A document issued to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts by the Debt Management Office, a copy of which was obtained on Saturday, showed that about N5,257,499,860 was paid to various contractors in 2015, out of which over N3.3bn was given to various contractors in the last week of the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.

The sum of N15bn had also been paid to two contractors in 2016.

Most of the payments were done after the 2015 general elections and two months into the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Between May 26 and May 28, 2015, alone, nine different payments were made to various contractors.

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The airline was on July 9, 2015, paid NN450m, the purpose “being the second installment of the compensation.”

Again on July 31, 2015, it was paid N571.5m “being the third installment of the compensation of the approved sum of N1,893,025,000.”

The payments, according to the document which was confirmed by an official close to the commitee, were made through the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

The source, who is privy to the documents submitted before the committee, said that a contractor was listed for payment of a contract debt owed since 1974.

He said, “As you can see, the monies were pushed out close to the end of the Jonathan government and the trend continued before the new administration of Buhari was inaugurated.

“The most surprising were the payments to Albarka Airlines and unnamed contractors. The next line of action is for the government to furnish the Senate committee with more documents on how the payments were made.

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“They need to provide more information. When the documents are provided and there are still irregularities, the committee may summon the former Budget Office officials to explain how they came about paying (Buba) Marwa almost N1.5bn.

“There is a contractor they have lined up; they are planning to pay for a contract done in 1974. That is not part of the document made available to you.”

It was also observed that N336.7m was paid to 14 local contractors, with no names “for the settlement of outstanding debt owed by the FG.”

The transaction has no date on the document but was listed as the first payment in 2015. It has the OAGF as the beneficiary, with a file number BD/11890/S.57/XV/T and the “AIE Number” as A01-00003751.

Similarly on May 27, 2015, N137,490,000 was paid to “five local contractors as payment of debts owed to contractors. The transaction has AIE Number A01-00003126 and file number BD/2000/EXP/S.782/II.

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Also on July 6, 2015, 28 “local contractors” were paid N1,356,325,928 “as payment of debts owed to the contractors.” The transaction has AIE Number A01-00003183 and file number BD/2000/EXP/S.782/II.

After Albarka Airlines was paid N571.5m on July 31, 2015, 14 “local contractors” were paid N336, 745,340 “for the settlement of outstanding debt owed by the FG.”

It is however uncertain if the contractors were paid same day with the airline or not, as no date was made available for the transaction but has AIE Number A01-BD/11890/S.57/XV/T.

The documents further showed that two contractors were paid N15bn in 2016. They are SCC Limited (N10bn) “for the settlement of outstanding debt,” and RCC Limited (N5bn) “for the payment of outstanding debt owed for dualisation of Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja Road.”

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