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Defence minister, others in $1.4m contract scam

Fresh documents about the controversy over an alleged $1.4m contract scam have indicated that the Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (retd.), and two of his ministry’s officials, have not come clean about details of the contract.

The contract documents, obtained and published by an online newspaper, The Cable, on Thursday revealed that the ministry applied for and received approval for $1.464m from the Presidency for the United Nations’ project but awarded the said contract for $1m.

There was no explanation or record to show what happened to the balance of $464m.

The contract was for the building of a United Nations Level 2 Hospital in Mali – in which the minister and three senior officials of the ministry were allegedly involved.

Dan-Ali, the immediate past permanent secretary of the ministry, Danjuma Nanfo; and the coordinator of peacekeeping, Brig. Gen. L.Y.M. Hassan, were being questioned in connection with the disbursement of part of the $1.4m meant for the project.

Hassan was reported to be in detention and facing a court-martial over the issue.

However, in response to the issues earlier raised, the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, said on Wednesday, “The procedure for awarding contracts by the ministry is in line with the existing procurement Act of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The said contract has already been successfully executed and the contractor has requested a team to carry out a completion inspection of the project. There is no fraud in the process.”

However, three internal memos detailing the official communication between the Presidency and the ministry in connection with the contract indicate that the minister and the two other officials have further explanations to make.

The first document, AE/HMOD/CPSO/01/ABJ, dated July 21, 2016, was a letter of request for funds totalling $1,464,750 for the UN project. It was written and signed by Dan-Ali to the Office of the President.

The second document, PRES/178/MOD/77, was from the State House and dated September 26, 2016, signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, conveying the President’s approval of the request.

However, the third document, dated February 2, 2017, was from the Procurement Department of the ministry, showing the award of the contract in a breakdown totalling $1m.

The letter was signed by Michael Chukwurah, Director, Procurement, and addressed to a contractor, Opem Integrated Concepts Ltd., in Garki Market, Abuja.

Our correspondent observed from the third document that the contractor was given two months to complete the awarded project.

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