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Reps ask CAC, FIRS to provide details of firms awarded bush-clearing contracts by agric ministry

  The house of representatives committee on public accounts has asked the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Federal Inland Revenue ...

 


The house of representatives committee on public accounts has asked the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to provide the details of the firms involved in the N18 billion bush-clearing contracts of the ministry of agriculture.

 

Oluwole Oke, chairman of the committee, issued the directive at an investigative hearing on Wednesday.

 

On Tuesday, the committee had said the contracts were awarded to the companies for bush clearing, land preparation and rehabilitation of soil and plant laboratories.

 

“During the lockdown of the country as a result of COVID-19, some companies took contracts worth about N18 billion for bush clearing from the federal ministry of agriculture for land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others. We cannot shave their head in their absence,” Oke had said.


“We have invited the ministry of agriculture and they have made a submission. But some of our members whose constituencies these projects were supposed to be domiciled doubted the existence of these projects and for fair hearing, we have invited the companies that got the contract for them to come and tell this committee where and when the jobs were executed.”

 

At its sitting on Wednesday, Oke asked the clerk of the committee to write the registrar of CAC and executive chairman of FIRS to supply the lawmakers with information and documents about the firms involved in the contracts.

 

“We are not concerned about who won the contracts, what we are after is to determine the value for money paid out and the sites of the projects. We will carry that mission to the letter,” the chairman of the committee said.

 

“The clerk should also write the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to furnish the committee with the financial status of the companies,” he added.

 

The committee is probing queries raised by the office of the auditor-general of the federation in the 2019 report on ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

 

But the ministry of agriculture has denied awarding the contracts at the sum of N18 billion.

 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Joel Oruche, director of information in the ministry of agriculture, said the ministry only carried out bush clearing and land preparation of 3,200 hectares in eight states — Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Cross River, Kaduna, Kwara, Plateau and Ogun.

 

According to NAN, Oruche said the bush clearing contract was awarded by the respective state governments at a total cost of N2.5 billion.

 

He said other projects executed by the ministry during the COVID–19 period that totalled the sum of N18 billion include the construction of rural roads in the six geo-political zones.

 

According to him, other projects are soil sampling and mapping, farmers registration, rehabilitation and equipping of four national soil laboratories in Umudike, Ibadan, Kaduna and Abuja.

 

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