The Senate is currently probing the Federal Ministry of Works for paying N145m to a construction firm as reimbursement for a road project executed by the Redeemed Christian Church of God as part of its corporate social responsibility.
A senior official of the RCCG, Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, had in a petition submitted to the Senate alleged that FMW officials paid N151m to the management of Cartil Construction Nigeria Ltd as part payment for the road project awarded to it but abandoned.
Adebanjo submitted the petition on behalf of the General Overseer of the RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, and the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the document to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
The petition was presented by the Chairman of the committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, on behalf of Lawan, on February 9.
The RCCG, in the petition, alleged that the construction firm claimed the sum of N151,508,901.22 as reimbursement for the rehabilitation of the Ife-Ifewara Road, Osun State, which the church constructed.
Part of the petition read, “The rehabilitation of the road was awarded and paid for by Pastor Enoch Adeboye in the sum of N188,440,342, hence the claim by Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited was illegal and unjust.
“The church hereby requests the Senate to look into the matter and, among others, urge the firm to refund the money it collected to the coffers of the Federal Government.”
Speaking before the panel under oath, on Wednesday, Adebanjo said, “Pastor E.A. Adeboye employed the services of the Construction Department of the RCCG to execute the project between August 26, 2016 and 2019 and the total cost was over N188m.
“The project started from Eruwa junction in Ife and Garage Olode in Ifewara, which is 8.2km. We have details of all the seven companies that supplied us with the materials used to execute the project. They delivered all the materials on site. We have supplied details of the projects to the committee.
“While the project was ongoing, authorities of the Nigerian Correctional Service pleaded with Pastor Adeboye to extend the construction to their premises, which was done.
“There are people at Ife and Ifewara who can testify to the fact that Pastor Adeboye constructed the road because he visited the palace, where the Oba appreciated him for constructing the road.
“We were therefore shocked when we found out that somebody was trying to defraud the Nigerian state by claiming money for a project he never executed.”
He said the people of the area pleaded with Adeboye to repair the road, which was in a deplorable state for years, making it a death trap for motorists and a safe haven for criminals.
The firm’s engineer, Olalekan Jimoh, was put on oath to address the panel on behalf of its Managing Director, who he claimed could not speak English language.
Jimoh denied allegations of the RCCG, saying the contract for the construction of the road was awarded to his construction firm in 2010 for the sum of over N600m to rehabilitate the road under reference. He said only N145m had been paid to the company.
The engineer said, “Cartil Construction Limited was duly given an award letter, description of works to be done and staff of the Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja and those in Osun State were constantly supervising the project which is still ongoing.
“Up until March 2020, there were communications between us and the Federal Government.”
He therefore urged the committee to summon officials of the Federal Ministry of Works for questioning so as to correct the impression that the firm fraudulently collected money for projects it did not execute.
Jimoh said, “The RCCG only constructed the entrance to its church in 2016 from the junction of the road to their premises, which is about six metres.”
However, a member of the panel representing the area under reference, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, faulted the submissions of the construction company.
He said, “I visited the road personally and I complained to the Minister of Works (Babatunde Fashola), and told him that the road was abandoned due to the sickness of the Managing Director of the construction company.
“The minster then promised that another contractor would take over the project because the road had been abandoned. It was when armed robbers capitalised on the poor state of the road that Pastor Adeboye came to the aid of the people.”
Ruling on the matter, the committee chairman directed the secretariat to write the directors and supervising engineers in charge of the project to appear before the panel.
Akinyelure said, “The engineers in the Ministry of Works should come and tell us their own side of the story. The directors of works too should be summoned. We would listen to them before we would carry out physical assessment of the road as part of our oversight functions.”