SAMUEL OGIDAN analyses the intrigues and internal divisions playing out in the just concluded probe report of the Abuja Centenary City project by the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which indicted ex-SGF Anyim, Bala
The indictment of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Ayim by the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has continued to generate controversy across the country. Before the Committee, headed by Hon. Herma Hembe, submitted its report to the House on the probe of Centenary City, the former SGF had cried out against the probe, insisting that he will not get fair hearing, because of a long standing issue between himself and Hembe.
It could be recalled that in 2012, Hembe had had a misunderstanding with the former Director General of the Stock Exchange Commission (SEC), Aruma Oteh. This development led to the demand by the House for the sack of the DG SEC, but Anyim, who was the SGF at that time refused to carry out the demand of the lawmakers.
The probe of the Centenary City, which involved Anyim, according to political watchers, may have given Hembe the opportunity to have his pound of flesh. Anyim had at the beginning of the probe objected to the lawmaker from Benue presiding over the probe. The former SGF had alleged that the FCT Committee Chairman has a personal score to settle with him, over his refusal to sack Oteh. Oteh had alleged that Hembe solicited N39million bribe from her. In the ensuing controversy, the House had demanded Oteh’s sack, a request the executive arm of government refused to accept.
Anyim, who had interpreted the probe as a personal vendetta, pointed out that Hembe, the FCT Committee Chairman still bore grudges against him over the Hembe-Oteh saga and demanded that he should disqualify himself from presiding over the probe, insisting that his deputy can preside over the exercise.
He had said: “You have told everybody that cares to listen that when the former DG of Security and Exchange Commission accused you of demanding bribe from her, you pushed for her to be sacked and I refused to sack her while I was SGF and so this an opportunity for you to pay me back...
“Mr. chairman, I would not allow you to use the National Assembly platform to pursue this personal vendetta, it’s not acceptable and I will not submit to it because it offends the rule of fair hearing and all I’m asking for is fair hearing.”
This development was at the opening session of the public hearing, where the former President of the Senate took on Hembe. But, with all the controversies, the accusations and counter-accusations, the House had last week adopted the report of the Committee on FCT on the probe of the Centenary City.
The report indicted Anyim, former Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed and the directors of Centenary City Plc, Paul Oki and Boma Ozobia for their role in the Centenary City project.
The Committee report not only inducted them, but also called for their prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau ( CCB). The $18.72 billion Centenary City Project, which sits on 1,267 hectares of land in the FCT was conceived by former President Goodluck Jonathan administration to commemorate Nigeria’s centenary celebration in 2014 and the project was supervised by the office of the SGF under Anyim.
The four-point recommendation by the Committee stated that “all the Statutory Rights of Occupancy purportedly revoked by the former FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed in respect of the area covered by the Centenary City should be restored to the original owners.
“That the Right of Occupancy and Certificate of Occupancy purportedly granted to the Centenary City Plc by the former FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed on 10 April 2014 should be withdrawn by the present FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello.
“That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should direct the Managing Director of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority through the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment to revoke the Certificate of Free Trade Zone granted to the Centenary City Plc and the company should be deregistered as a Free Zone Entity, FZE.
“That the Relevant law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, should investigate the role of the parties involved in the promotion/selection of Centenary City Plc as investors; and their roles in the management of the Centenary City Project. The promoters include the former SGF; the former FCT Minister; Ms. Boma Ozobia and Mr. Paul Oki.”
The Committee in its report also observed that “the implementation of the Centenary City project from the beginning to its current status leaves much to be desired. Presidential directives were flouted, relevant laws were violated and contractual obligations were wantonly breached.”
In its recommendation, the committee said that all the statutory Rights of Occupancy purportedly revoked by the former FCT Minister, Senator Bala in the area covered by the Centenary City should be restored back to the original allottees unconditionally without delay by the present FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello.
Also that the Right of Occupancy and Certificate of Occupancy granted to Centenary City Plc by the former FCT Minister, on 10th April, 2014, should be withdrawn by the present FCT Minister, Bello.
The report said that the former SGF “applied for Certificate of Occupancy on behalf of Centenary City Plc vide letter dated 6th February, 2014, with reference umber SGF.32/S.47/III/. Awarded a contract on behalf of Centenary City Plc on 11th June 2013 for the relocation of 330KV DC transmission lines crossing the proposed Centenary City.
“Wrote to the then FCT Minister vide letter dated 3rd December, 2013 with reference number SGF.32/S.47/11 requesting for details of Bank accounts to pay on behalf of Centenary City Plc, the sum of N1,234,747,076 being compensation money to be paid by Centenary City Plc to displaced persons.”
Although, several reactions have been trailing the report, including members of the Committee, who expressed concern over some of the items, the former FCT Minister, Bala, during the probe had dared the lawmakers, describing their actions as childish.
Some members of the Committee had also filed a minority report faulting the report, which indicted Anyim and others, with the excuse that Hembe report left much to be desired.
Hon Linus Okorie, a member of the Committee, who had earlier disagreed with Hembe during the hearing disowned most of the recommendations, adding that there was no basis for the call for the prosecution of Anyim and the three others as no wrong doing was established against them.
The lawmaker said: “The reporting pattern and the consequent findings did not present the entire facts and consequently the recommendations did not flow from the true facts or findings. It is clear that the recommendations were at variance with the findings of the Committee.”
Describing the recommendation to probe the former SGF, former FCT Minister and the directors of the Centenary City Plc Ozobia and Paul Oki, as alien to the work of the committee, Hon. Okorie said “the recommendation appears to come from the moon. The Committee did not make any finding as to fraud and did not also allege any.
“So, what is the basis for asking the agencies listed in the above recommendation to come in? The Committee only alleged that conditions were not met. Does that come within the mandate of these agencies? At best, this could be an administrative infraction. Again, there is no finding in the report that Senator Anyim acted outside the purview of his official responsibility as the government coordinator of the project.”
The minority report also went as far as faulting the Hembe’s report that recommended restoration of revoked land covered by the Centenary City carried out by the former FCT Minister to the alleged original allottees.
He said: “The basis for the recommendation... is misplaced as the Committee had confirmed that the City is not a Land Swap Programme and so cannot be guided by Land Swap terms. Again, this is inconsistent with the findings of the Committee that the project is a government (interest) project to be driven by the private sector. And so, there is no infringement on the Land Use Act and the Land Swap Terms no longer applies from the point the President approved it as a Free Zone.
“It is clear that the recommendations were at variance with the findings of the Committee. I believe that if the Committee had spent more time to make detailed findings, it would have come to a different conclusion from what is recommended.”
Now that so many hidden developments have surfaced from the report, would it be possible to say that Anyim and others are guilty as recommended by the report, or would Nigerians been made to see a situation whereby personal agenda is pursue using the collective will of the people?