[Report]–As a followup to our earlier story on how an overfunding of N5.1 billion was spent by the University of Ibadan, and a N649 million project carried out, without relevant government approval, also revealed in the OS Professional services (OSP) audit report is how the University of Ibadan has been awarding contracts to unregistered companies in flagrant disobedience to the provisions of University of Ibadan Financial Instructions (January 1992), University of Ibadan Tender Manual ( January 1992), Public Procurement Act 2007, Fiscal Responsibility Policy Act 2007, University of Ibadan Act of 1962 and Universities Miscellaneous Act 2003.
It should be recalled that Section 58(4) of the Public Procurement Act of 2007 criminalizes splitting of contracts as it states:
(4) The following shall also constitute offences under this Act :
(a) entering or attempting to enter into a collusive agreement, whether enforceable or not, with a supplier, contractor or consultant where the prices quoted in their respective tenders, proposals or quotations are or would be higher than would have been the case has there not been collusion between the persons concerned ;
(b) conducting or attempting to conduct procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt acts, unlawful influence, undue interest, favor, agreement, bribery or corruption ;
(c) directly, indirectly or attempting to influence in any manner the procurement process to obtain an un fair advantage in the award of a procurement contract ;
(d) splitting of tenders to enable the evasion of monetary thresholds set ;
(e) bid-rigging ;
(f) altering any procurement document with intent to influence the outcome of a tender proceeding ;
(g) uttering or using fake documents or encouraging their use ; and
(h) willful refusal to allow the Bureau or its officers to have access to any procurement records.
It should also be noted that the University Tender Board approval limit is less than two hundred and fifty million naira (N250 million) and any contract valued above that must get a ministerial tender board approval from the Ministry of Education before such can be awarded.
It has been uncovered in the recent audit report by OS Professional services (OSP) that Halix Matrix Ltd and MM & IF Integrated Ltd got a split contracts for the construction of building for virology department phase 1 and phase 2 respectively. The contract, which was awarded on the same date, May 28, 2015 went for N153,399,568.63 and N140,,612,709.19, an addition of which gives N294,012,277 which obviously is above the threshold limit of N250,000,000.
In a similar connivance, the construction of Administrative Building for Post Graduate School was awarded to Tandam Engineering Ltd. for N239,000,000.00, the construction of Library and External Works for the Post Graduate School was awarded to Samsoj Engineering Limited for N189,000,000.00 and the Construction of an E-Library for the Post Graduate School was awarded to Albencon Nigeria Ltd for 99,000,000.00.
It is interesting to note that both contracts for Tandem Engineering Ltd. and Samsoj Engineering Limited were awarded on the same date of June 8, 2015 while that of Albenco Nigeria Ltd was awarded three months later on September 1, 2015 and the contracts all added up to 527 million naira which almost doubled the 250 million naira threshold.
Contracts for the Purchase and Installation of electrical control/ Protection Devices for University of Ibadan and Purchase of Fault Detectors for the university of Ibadan were awarded to Debson Engineering Company Ltd and Elgar Nigeria Limited for N206,613,330.00 and N53,942,991.30 respectively. This adds up to N260,556,321.00 and it is obvious that the two contracts were intentionally split to avoid having to get a Ministerial Tender Board approval.
In what was a daring move by the University management, the Construction of National Institute of Maternal and Child Health (College of Medicine) was awarded to Love integrated Nigeria Ltd for N649,8773,537.36 on August 8, 2014 with no documented evidence of Ministerial Tender Board Approval!
Further investigation by THE PAGE revealed that out of the companies involved in these shady arrangements, Halix Matrix Ltd and MM & IF Integrated Ltd, two companies that got a split contracts for the construction of building for virology department phase 1 and phase 2 respectively at N294,012,277 were not registered companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission!
Similarly, Tandem Engineering Ltd that got the contract for the construction of Administrative Building for Post Graduate School for N239,000,000.00 is also not registered. And Love integrated Nigeria Ltd which got the contract for the Construction of National Institute of Maternal and Child Health (College of Medicine) at an unapproved rate of N649,8773,537.36 is also not a legal company.
It was also revealed that the University authority often manipulate the tender process which results in the same set of contractors winning the bids and engaged to execute varying projects that are technically unrelated to their area of expertise.
And in this regard, the report submitted, that “the fairness, openness and transparency of the tender evaluation process is put into question”.
The report also noted that “during the process audit that records were not available for micro supplies and services contracts contrary to Public Procurement Framework and Guidelines issued by Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) which emphasized that procurement of goods, works etc shall be performed in accordance with Nigeria Public procurement guidelines. Micro procurements at various academic units and service points were not in compliance with BPP guidelines and documentations are not kept in line with Public Procurement Act requirements for procurements falling within such thresholds”.
All these stated above are contrary to the provisions of the financial and administrative rules guiding the University and officials guilty of the malpractices are liable to at least five years imprisonment without any option of fine and summary dismissal from government services.
Section 58 (5) of the earlier cited Act captures it all:
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(5) Any person who while carrying out his duties as an officer of the Bureau, or any procuring entity who contravenes any provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a cumulative punishment of :
(a) a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 calendar years without any option of fine ; and
(b) summary dismissal from government services.
(6) Any legal person that contravenes any provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a cumulative penalty of :
(a) debarment from all public procurements for a period not less than 5 calendar years ; and
(b) a fine equivalent to 25% of the value of the procurement in issue.
(7) Where any legal person shall be convicted pursuant to subsection (4) of this Section, every director of the company as listed on its records at the Corporate Affairs Commission shall be guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not less than 3 calendar years but not exceeding 5 calendar years without an option of fine. (8) An alternation pursuant to subsection 4(f) shall include :
(a) insertion of documents such as bid security or tax clearance certificate which were not submitted at bid opening ; and
(b) request for clarification in a manner not permitted under this Act.
(9) Collusion shall be presumed from a set of acts from which it can be assumed that there was an understanding, implicit, formal or informal, overt or covert under which each person involved reasonably expected that the other would adopt a particular course of action which would interfere with the faithful and proper application of the provisions of this Act.
(10) Bid-rigging pursuant to subsection 4(e) means an agreement between persons whereby :
(a) offers submitted have been pre-arranged between them ; or
(b) their conduct has had the effect of directly or indirectly restricting free and open competition, distorting the competitiveness of the procurement process and leading to an escalation or increase in costs or loss of value to the national treasury.
(11) For the purposes of the presumption under Section 51 (7) of this Section, consideration shall be given to a suspect’s ability to control the procurement proceedings or to control a solicitation or the conditions of the contract in question, whether total or partial.
(12) For the purposes of Section 59 (5) of this Section, it shall be sufficient to prove that a reasonable business person should have known that his action would result in his company or firm having an undue advantage over other bidders to the detriment of the national treasury.