OrderPaperToday – The House Representatives Adhoc committee investigating contracts awarded by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) from 2010 to 2014 has alleged that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal is refusing to cooperate with it.

The committee has also threatened to issue bench warrants for the arrest of 13 contractors that failed to appear before it on Thursday at its hearing at the National Assembly.

Chairman of the committee, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinman (PDP, Edo State) explained that a letter was written to the SGF to appear before it.

But instead of appearing, “we got a reply letter from the SGF and the content of that letter was not suitable to us,” he said, adding swiftly: “Nobody is above the law. All of us are working for the betterment of this country.”

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At the hearing, only seven firms were properly represented out of the 23 contractors deployed by the NRC in executing the different contracts thus making the committee chairman to frown at the non appearance of the others.

Agbonayinman insisted that the panel would be left with no choice but to exercise its legislative powers by issuing bench warrants for their arrest.

According to him, “there is no reason why these contractors should not be here. Only seven companies are properly represented, while the 13 others are not here. This is unacceptable.

“The former Managing Director of NRC promised to produce the contractors and you (acting MD) were there when this promise was made. They are holding us back in doing our job.

“These are contractors you gave job, I think we will issue a bench warrant on these contractors. We will not accept this any more.”

The chairman explained that the ad hoc committee was set up to probe the contract awarded from 2010 and 2014 by the NRC, stressing that the essence of the investigative hearing was to ensure that the process of the award of contracts met guidelines as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act.

Recall that in the course of its probe, the committee had written to all the contractors with NRC inviting them to appear before it to know if these contracts were in line with the Public Procurement Act.

Acting Managing Director of NRC, Engineer Fidet Okhirca pleaded with the committee to give the contractors more time to appear before the committee.

He admitted that it was difficult for him to force them to come, especially now that they were no longer handling any project for the corporation.

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