By Usman Babaji
In Bauchi State, Boi and Lusa communities in Bogoro Local Government Area were allocated over N60 million for constituency projects in 2022. However, residents remain unaware of any project implementation, and both the agency responsible, the contractor, and the legislator involved have remained silent, providing no evidence of project execution.
This investigative report by Xchange Hamma Media delves into the status of the 2022 constituency projects in Boi and Lusa communities in Bauchi State. It sheds light on how these communities were used as conduits to divert constituency project funds by the National Commission for Refugees, in collaboration with an undisclosed contractor.
The National Commission for Refugees, established by Decree 52 of 1989 and now operating under Cap. N21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (NCFRMI Act), is responsible for managing the affairs of refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons in Nigeria. The agency operates under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, led by a Federal Commissioner.
In 2022, the Commission allocated N100,286,442.09 for an empowerment constituency project aimed at benefiting the youths and women of Boi and Lusa communities in Bogoro LGA. This project was nominated by Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the representative of BOGORO / DASS / TAFAWA BALEWA in the 9th Assembly.
The proposed projects included the provision of motorcycles, tricycles, and grinding machines, with the aim of creating livelihood opportunities for the youth and women in these two communities.
Constituency projects, also known as Zonal Intervention Projects, are typically advocated for by legislators from various ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) or nominated by legislators based on the needs of their constituents. These projects are meant to drive development in both rural and urban communities.
Despite the project timeline spanning from January to December 2022, there is no evidence of project execution. Interestingly, financial records indicate that the project was meant to have been executed at least by December.
According to records from the Office of the Accountant General of The Federation, as captured on the Govseond portal of Budgit, an accountability platform that profiles procurement contracts awarded by MDAs, on December 28, 2022, just three days before the end of the budget year and the year itself, a sum of ₦66,611,671.20 was disbursed to MAIWADA GLOBAL CONCEPTS LIMITED for the supply of motorcycles, tricycles, and grinding machines to Lusa and Boi districts in Bauchi State.
This payment represents over 50 percent of the contract value, a significant departure from the 15 percent typically approved as part payment by procurement laws.
The questions surrounding the execution of these projects and the financial irregularities uncovered raise concerns about transparency, accountability, and the proper utilization of public funds in Bauchi State
A visit to the project locations reveals no evidence of the purported empowerment projects, and residents of these areas deny any awareness or benefit from the said projects.
According to Section 58 of the Public Procurement Act of 2007, clear modalities and procedures govern the award of contracts, with specified penalties for public officers who violate these procedures in the award and execution of contracts. Article 18, paragraph 6 of Section 58 stipulates that only 15 percent should be disbursed as mobilization to contractors as the initial payment. This rule was temporarily disregarded in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, allowing contractors to execute emergency procurement processes for COVID-19 projects.
Surprisingly, MAIWADA GLOBAL CONCEPTS LIMITED, the company awarded the multimillion-naira contract for the supply of motorcycles, grinding machines, and tricycles, is registered as an oil and gas company. The company’s business operations include dealing in pure petroleum, industrial chemicals, bitumen, and agricultural production, which differ from the nature of the contract it was awarded.
Oil and Gas Company Awarded Fraudulent Contract
A check on NG-Checks and B2BHint reveals that MAIWADA GLOBAL CONCEPTS LIMITED was registered on September 8, 2015, with RC-1286361. However, its current status is inactive, suggesting that the company has been removed from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) records due to its failure to file annual tax returns.
The company’s directors are Haruna S. Umar and Amina Musa Kaita. Further investigation by Xchange Hamma Media into the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of one of the directors, Amina Musa Kaita, reveals that she is a staff member of the National Assembly. She is listed as a co-director alongside Haruna Umar in Maiwada Global Concepts Ltd, Kaita Integrated Services, and Interstellar Hybrid Ltd. These same companies are involved in a N3 billion peace project in the North East, a project awarded by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR).
Communities Unaware of Empowerment Project
Blessing Hakimi, a resident of Boi community, initially hesitant to speak out for safety reasons, finally shared her perspective on the project. She explained how they had to travel for hours to access grinding services, as no grinding machines had been distributed in their community. She said, “No grinding machine was ever distributed to any of us. We belong to different union meetings, and the news would have traveled far. I am just getting to know of this. We journey about 40 minutes or even more sometimes to the next community or to Tafawa Balewa to grind, or we resort to using our local grinding methods.”
James Nuhu, President of the Okada and Keke Rider Association in Boi, expressed his frustration at how politicians manipulate their community to siphon constituency project funds meant for development. He stated, “I am the president of the Okada and Motorcycle riders association in Boi. It is impossible that what you mentioned was distributed, and I am not aware. Even if I am not, the news would go around, and motorcycles are not invisible.”
Jonas Munaka, the national youth leader of Boi community, expressed astonishment upon hearing that the project had been executed with money paid to the contractor. He labeled the project as fraudulent and called for accountability, saying, “It is very easy to identify beneficiaries. None of these mentioned reached our community. It’s a complete lie and a fraudulent project. The contractors must be investigated and asked to account for the project.”
In Lusa, a neighboring community just three kilometers from Boi, similar sentiments were echoed. Zacchaeus Nathaniel, the Youth Leader of Lusa community, denied any knowledge of the project and emphasized that such programs typically involve the youth leader, women leader, and community head, none of whom were aware of this project.
Agency and Contractor Divert Inquiries to Legislature
Xchange Hamma Media sought clarification from the National Commission for Refugees regarding the project’s execution, beneficiaries, and its impact, considering the agency’s mandate to achieve meaningful impact in their work. However, Deputy Director of Procurement, Hassan Gambari, declined to provide information and redirected the inquiry to the legislator who implemented the project within his constituency. He explained, “All the questions you have asked can only be answered by the legislature who implemented the project under his constituency. Reach out to him, and he will provide you with the names of the beneficiaries and the impact achieved so far. We have done our part by budgeting and facilitating the fund’s disbursement; the rest is in the hands of the legislature to account for the program.”
Similarly, when contacted, Salisu Bawa Ahmed, the contact person for MAIWADA GLOBAL CONCEPTS LIMITED, insisted that the reporter should contact the legislator for information. He said, “We can’t provide you with any information without you first speaking with the legislature who nominated and implemented the project. When you do, reach back to me, and I will provide you with the information available to us.”
Efforts to reach Hon. Yakubu Dogara and his spokesperson, Hassan Turaki, through calls, text messages, and WhatsApp messages by Xchange Hamma Media, remained unanswered as of the time of filing this report.
This publication is produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability Project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation