10years after, confusion reigns over N19.9billion Mbora Abuja Development Contract

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Jabi Abuja Airport Road presents very beautiful scenery. What makes the environment beautiful are the ornamental flowers which deck both sides of the road, together with the cluster of trees that line it. The flowers stretch from the National Judicial Council intersection, and even up to Gwarimpa and Kado Estates.

But it is only the environment that looks beautiful. Even though the road leads to the corporate headquarters of the EFCC, the Federal Medical Centre, the Idu Railway Centre, the offices of the National Communications Commission, the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, it is considered one of the most dangerous roads in Abuja. Because it is also an important link from the Abuja Airport to key residential estates where government officials, top businessmen and women live, the road is busy, and traffic is usually heavy when workers are off to work, and by dusk when they return. Low income staff who service the elite living at the Gwarimpa, Kado and CITEC Estates also live around this environment.

The Jabi Airport road has no road signs, no traffic lights and is completely dark at dusk. Crime has been rife – there are many stories of people who have been stabbed and robed.  Motor accidents were a common occurrence.

‘Nobody wants to be around that place when it is dark, and so everyone is in a hurry to leave that environment. The robbers snatch your bag or phone and disappear into the bush or under that bridge there’, a driver who plies the road for a living told us.

To stem motor accident and rampant cases of robbery on the Jabi Airport Road, authorities at the Federal Capital Development Administration, FCDA, swung into action. They constructed road bumps at strategic points on the road, apparently to force motorists to reduce excessive speed on the road. Perhaps to control crime there, they constructed a CCTV Camera on the Jabi Junction as well.

But the robberies increased after speed breakers were erected. ‘As soon as those speed breakers were erected, the robbers took advantage – if a vehicle slows down, the robbers pounce on it and rob the driver and occupants. Afterwards, they dash into the bushes and are never caught’, Abu Moses, an environmental manager who lives near the CITEC estate told us.

Those mostly affected are commuters and drivers plying that road en-route satellite towns like Pyankasa, Kushigworo, Lugbe and Shika from Wuse, Gwarimpa and Berger.  Officials of the FDCA told us that they had no option but to remove the speed breakers again.

There were indications that a contract for the construction of the Jabi Airport Road was awarded to a construction firm. When, who, and what was the contract fee? Was the contract completed, and if so what were the specifications.

Our investigation reveal that Sammya Nigeria Ltd, a construction firm in Abuja, received a contract for ‘provision of engineering infrastructure in Mbora’.  A signboard in front of CITEC Estate Mbora indicates that the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the Federal Capital Development Administration, FCDA, acting as client awarded that contract to Sammya Nigeria Ltd, in 2012.

In a response to our FOI request of 22nd November 2021, seeking information on provision of engineering infrastructure to Mbora district, Sammy Adigun, Sammya Chairman/CEO told us that as Sammya Nigeria Ltd is a private company, it had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the FCDA, and was therefore unable to give us required information.

 ‘as a private limited liability company we are constrained by the confidentiality clause in agreements signed with our clients, in this case the Federal Capital Development Authority, (FCDA), and as such we cannot provide you with the information you are requesting for, at this time’.

The FCT Minister too, Musa Bello Muhammadu, did not respond to our FOI request of 22nd November 2021, seeking similar information concerning the contract award to Sammya Nigeria Ltd.

Consequently, we have sought to compel Sammya Nigeria Ltd to release details of the contract awarded it by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the FCDA, for ‘provision of engineering infrastructure in Mbora’. In a Motion Exparte filed at the High Court Abuja, our counsel, President Aigbokhan cited Section 31 of the FOI Act, seeking an Order of Mandamus for a judicial review of Sammya’s refusal to let us have details of the contract that the Federal Government of Nigeria had signed with Sammya Nigeria Ltd for ‘provision of engineering infrastructure’.

Section 31 of the FOIA 2011 expressly states that ‘public Institution’, means any legislative, executive, judicial, administrative or advisory body of the Government, including boards, bureau, committees, or commissions of state: and any subsidiary or body of those bodies including but not limited to committees and sub committees which are supported in whole or in part by public fund or which expends public fund and private bodies providing public services, performing public functions or utilizing public funds.

Prior to assigning our Motion Exparte at the High Court Abuja, our further investigations however unearthed two documents that the FCDA and Sammya Nigeria Limited were unwilling to make available. One was from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP titled ‘Status Report 2012 – 1st April 2012 to December 31, 2012, Main Due Process Certificates Issued against FY2012 Appropriation Detailed Certificates of the Federal Ministry of Power, and the other, a Federal Executive Council (FEC) Approved Contracts for Financial Year 2010 Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Information from the 2010 Federal Executive Council document indicated that there was a contract award for provision of Engineering Infrastructure to Mbora, Abuja Phase 1 with the Federal Capital Territory as implementing Agency. That contract, awarded to Messrs Sammya Nigeria Limited titled ‘Award on Contract for the provision of Engineering infrastructure to Mbora district, Abuja phase I’, was awarded on the 26th of May, 2010 and was supposed to last for 36 months.  According to this document, the contract sum involved for this ‘engineering infrastructure’ was N6, 664, 244,869.17 (six billion, six hundred and sixty four million, eight hundred and sixty nine thousand, seventeen kobo) out of the total project cost of N19, 952,798, 155.76 (Nineteen billion, nine hundred and fifty two million, seven hundred and ninety eight thousand, one hundred and fifty five naira, seventy sixty kobo).

Data on the BPP document is slightly different from the first one above: a contract with certificate number D:030 and titled ‘contract for (a) engineering infrastructure to Mbora District (b) provision of engineering infrastructure to Mbora District, Phase II Abuja,  was awarded to Messrs Sammya Nigeria Ltd on 11th June 2012 with the FCDA as implementing Agency. Projected cost as requested by the FCDA was N19, 952,978,155.78. Apparently, only N3, 700,000.00 was disbursed to Sammya by the FCDA as the documents show.

It was still unclear at this point if the sum of N19billion was awarded to Sammya for the Jabi Airport Road. It was also not clear what the N3billion it had allegedly received was for. Ten years after contract award to Sammya for the ‘provision of engineering infrastructure, the Jabi Airport Road leading to the Airport remains in limbo. Officials of the FCDA confirm to us that the road was supposed to have been dualized, but that has not happened. Why so? As response, officials pleading that we should not name them directed us to the Honourable Minister to the FCT Bello Mohammed. The Minister did not take any of the calls we made to him, apparently because he was in self-isolation from being Covid 19 positive.

If the sums on the documents for engineering infrastructure for the Mbora Estate were to have been disbursed and put to use, experts say that facilities like a surface water drainage, asphalt pavements, bridge works, culverts, waste water drainage, street lighting, power supply and conduits and zebra crossings should have been constructed.

This investigation reached Sammya again. We asked them the following questions: the contract in question, (award for provision of Engineering Infrastructure to Mbora District), did it pass through a procurement process? If it did, when was this? (ii) In the BPP manual at our disposal, the contract for the provision of engineering infrastructure seems to have two phases (a & b). Could they confirm and why it had to have two phases? (iii) Contract sums on the FEC and BPP documents at our disposal seem irregular. Both the BPP document and a FEC put the contract sum at nearly N20billion but there are irregularities with amounts stated to have been paid out to Sammya. What are the correct figures? What has been paid to Sammya, and what has not? (iv) Did ‘provision of engineering infrastructure to Mbora District’ include the dualization of the Jabi Airport Road? (v) The contract was awarded in 2012. Why has it not been completed?

Sammya did not tell us whether or not there was a process of procurement it followed before they were awarded the contract for the ‘provision of engineering infrastructure. Sammya also did not clear the air concerning the differences in the figures on the BPP and FEC that indicated that it had received close to N6billion for the Mbora contract.

There are feelers from Sammya that there is a dispute between the company and the FCDA.  According to a mail sent to us from Sammya, and signed off by ‘Stephen’, the Mbora project was subdivided because there was not enough budgetary allocation in 2011 for the whole project to be awarded.

‘The actual amount after all corrections is 19.9billion. Jabi Airport Road is Ring Road 2, while Mbora project is a district infrastructure. Construction of Rind road 2 is not part of Mbora project.

There are several reasons why there is delay with the Mbora project: there is delay in payments from the FCDA, there are cost overrun and there is inflation’, the Sammya statement revealed.

Sammya Nigeria Ltd also told us that since our investigations began, there have been meetings between Sammya and the FCDA, to resolve the issues related to the Mbora District contract for the ‘provision of engineering infrastructure (i) & (ii)’.

We have reached the FCDA again but the Minister has not taken the call. Consequently, issues concerning the Jabi Airport Road, aka Ring Road 2 linger: who was awarded the contract for that road? What is the contract sum? What is the timeline for the completion of the road? Why has it been abandoned?  Why is this road seemingly uncompleted over a decade from the date of its award? Why is the FCDA keeping mum over the matter? Until these issues are addressed, lives of FCT residents plying this road regularly hang precariously over excessive speeding & uncontrolled driving by motorists, danger of robbery and general insecurity around the Jabi Airport Road in Abuja.

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