OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has ordered a probe into alleged cases of indiscriminate and unlawful administrative charges on contracts by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

This resolution was adopted during plenary session sequel to a motion brought by Kpam Jimin Sokpo (PDP, Benue) on Thursday.

The motion is titled “Need to Investigate Unlawful Administrative Charges and Levies by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the Award of Contracts” and the adhoc committee so created for the task is to be chaired by Charles Uduyok (PDP, Akwa lbom).

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Presenting the motion, Sokpo noted that the National Assembly was constitutionally mandated to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation to ensure the welfare and security of every Nigerian.

He said one of such important legislations was the Appropriation Act which appropriates funds to various MDAs for implementation of specific projects, adding that the most critical component of the annual budget is the capital expenditure estimates approved for the provision of critical infrastructure and to cater for national priority projects.

He also noted that the Appropriation Act gives MDAs the mandate to execute such provisions by awarding contracts to qualified and competent companies and entities in line with extant laws while maintaining fairness, reliability, transparency, accountability and ethical standards in the process.

According to Sokpo: “The process of awarding contracts on projects mandates contractors to pay such taxes as Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax and are the only charges required by law for such contractors to pay to the government for the award of the contracts.

“The alleged arbitrary, indiscriminate and unlawful administrative charges, levies and contract fees charged by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government ranging from 5% to 25% of contract sums to be paid by contractors to officials of the MDAs are unlawful, fraudulent and clear cases of corrupt practices as such monies when collected, are not remitted to government coffers.

“When contractors are compelled to pay such advance fees, there is the high tendency of not keeping to the terms of the contract as such projects are often abandoned or poorly executed.

“The provisions of Section 88 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which states that each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into any matter or thing concerning which it has the power to make laws, and the conduct of affairs of any person, Authority, Ministry or Government Department charged or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly and disbursing or administering money appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly and that such powers are exercisable only to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it”.

The motion was overwhelmingly adopted when Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put the question.

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