Contract Splitting: NIPOST Caught In Web As ICPC, Others Begin Investigation

By Bukar Bolori

Facts emerging from the Nigerian Postal Services, NIPOST revealed that to circumvent the laid down procedure in Public Procurement Act on Award of Contract with particular emphasis on mandatory ceiling; a contract of N95 million was fragmented into three to bring it within the mandatory ceiling of the Postmaster General to the same company- CONNECT 4 NIGERIA LIMITED.

Staff of NIPOST described this as a serious crime under the procurement acts that attract jail terms for any individuals found guilty of contract splitting, alleging that this was done under the supervision of the Director Procurement, Mr. Samuel Sagontayo.

A source within NIPOST said: “The case in NIPOST was done without due process to budgetary provision. I can tell you that the case is currently with the ICPC and investigation is ongoing. However, there are issues because we learnt that some cronies of the Vice President have approached those in charge of the investigation to downplay it for certain interest.”

Also another staff of NIPOST explained that: “Liability for the contract was not also taken at the initial award of the contract in the year 2020 and bills of payments were presented for payment in the year 2021 at the detriment of other contractors whose bills have been processed for payment and have not been paid in the last two to four years.”

According to him, Dr. Adebayo Ismail has also neglected other regions of the country in the development programme of NIPOST since he came on board. “All developmental projects of NIPOST have been in the Southwestern part of the country. For example, since he came into office, he has awarded twelve (12) contracts of which only two (2) were awarded to the northeast in Bauchi and Gombe. This was also because the Board Chairman and Board member of NIPOST were from these two states. All other contracts were awarded to states in the southwest and mostly to his companies or his associates.”

It was also learnt that the Director IT, who is a Ph.D holder and IT expert, was deliberately removed from the IT department in order to perfect fraud in the organisation.

According to staff, a consultant was hired by Mr. Adebayo Ismail and was given an office inside NIPOST Headquarters. “This Consultant is collecting over N7 million on a quarterly basis without doing anything to show for his consulting work. The same consultant was also being given a contract to execute through his firm.”

In a petition written to the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, a part read: “We believe that the Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST, is a Federal Institution as Mr. Adebayo Ismail Adewusi has no right whatsoever to turn this organization into a tribal organization. We therefore humbly submit that you use your good office to intervene in the gross fraud, misrule and flagrant disregard to civil service procedures and total violation of the guidelines and rules governing this government institution.”

Speaking on huge allegations the Director Corporate Communication, NIPOST, Mr. Franklyn Alao told journalists at a meeting at the corporate headquarters that, rather than feeling on small issues of distraction, he would rather build and established a relationship with the press.

However, the meeting which lasted for about an hour revealed that almost all the allegations were true as the Director Corporate Communications could not deny the facts laid to him. He however, said that they are investigating and shall correct them.

Mr. Franklyn Alao, who was emphasizing on creating an atmosphere of relationship was also being tactical in avoiding making comments on the issues, however, when asked whether he knows or is aware of some of the issues brought, he said he has been with NIPOST for over 20 years implying that he would not want to speak on issues.

According to him, “Let us forget about everything here and build a relationship.”

Insisting on the Issues of Certification for Mr. Sagontayo and asking whether or not he has a BPP clearance, or a letter showing he has a waiver from the BPP, Mr. Alao said “That issue is gone. Let us have a new relationship”.

On the drafting of Mr. Sagontayo from the legal department to procurement. Mr. Franklyn Alao told newsmen that Mr. Samuel Sagontayo has been in the Procurement Department as Director since 2012. This is however against the facts in NIPOST records that the Director Procurement Mr. S.G Wakawa retired on March 13, 2019 and Mr. Samuel Sagontayo was drafted in June 13, 2019.

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