8 companies on bench warrant over railway projects

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has handed down a bench warrant on eight companies in connection with a 41.2 billion Naira contracts in the Railway Sector.

The bench warrant is part of the oversight functions in line with its legislative agenda.

The companies failed to respond or appear before the House’s Adhoc Committee, investigating the activities of the Nigerian Ministry of Transport, the management of Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC and all the contractors handling rail projects from 2010-2014.

The companies are; Costain West Africa PLC, Ansaldo-A3&O Limited, A3&O Wireless Limited and Gear Holdings. Others are; Ansaldo South Africa, Eser Contracting and Industry Company Inc, Eser West Africa Limited as well as Eser Nigeria Contracting Company Limited.

The eight companies were the major contractors in the railway projects awarded within the period being investigated.

Handing down the warrant, the Chairman Adhoc Committee on Transport and Railway, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma said by failing to respond to the committee, the companies have showed disregard to the Law making body which could be interpreted as contempt.

” We wrote to their addresses given but they were nowhere to be found…Some of them don’t live in the addresses; some don’t even have addresses in Nigeria, but were given billions of Naira worth contracts. We must ensure that corruption is dealt with squarely,” Mr. Agbonayinma stated.

The lawmaker promised that the House would do all it could to recover the public resources.

“We have NRC, they awarded the contracts. We will issue the warrant to NRC to produce all the contractors. The companies that failed to show up, NRC will be held responsible. Whether they like it or not, they must produce them,” Mr. Agbonayinma added.

Early this year, the House mandated the committee to investigate the rail contracts to ascertain the level of their performance viz-a-viz the amount expended to ensure prudent management of public fund.

Some former Ministers and  Chairmen of the Nigerian Railway Corporation as well as its  serving and former Executives have responded to the committee’s invitations in various time while 14 companies handling various railway projects, turned their
deaf ears to the lawmakers’ request.