By Gift Chapi Odekina
The acting director general, Product Development Institute (PRODA) Mr. Fabian Okonkwo on Wednesday accused members of the National Assembly of controlling most contracts at his agency.
Okonkwo made the accusation at the ongoing investigations into the procurement violation by the House of Representatives.
Speaking before committee on public procurement chaired by Rep. Nasiru Ahmed, the embattled DG insisted that the contracts being investigated were awarded in full compliance of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
He further said that most of the jobs executed in the agency were done by highly placed individuals in the National and State Houses of Assembly.
“Mr. Chairman, honourable members, most of the contracts at PRODA belongs to senators and members of the House of Representatives”
Clarifying on the alleged opening of an unauthorized bank account, the acting DG said he was given approval by the board chairman of the agency.
Also, testifying before the committee, the permanent secretary, ministry of science and technology, Mr Sunday Edet Akpan said it was not the ministry of science and technology that appointed the acting DG as required by law establishing the agency.
He also added that the actions of the acting DG in awarding some contacts were in violation of the public procurement Act, 2007.
According to the House committee, the acclaimed acting chairman of the board ought not to have assumed the office without communication from Mr. President who has the absolute power to appoint both the board chairman and it members.
In his reaction, the board chairman, Comrade Daniel Onje who has stepped aside in view of the ongoing investigation insisted that he has neither been suspended or sacked by the President adding that he is still the chairman pending the outcome of the probe.
“I am not an impostor as been painted by the committee members and Diran Ayanbeku group, only the president have the power to appoint and remove me from office, as we speak, the president has neither sacked me or suspended me. Rather, I was asked to step aside so that investigations into the issues of procurement will be carried out without interference.
“I am still the chairman until Mr. President daily’s otherwise. There is no allegations of corruption against anywhere and the DG was suspended on my recommendations. But I stepped aside for a smooth investigation”, he said.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Ahmad however, told Onje that the permanent secretary, Mr. Sunday Akpan had confirmed that he was no longer the board chairman.
Ahmed ruled that all parties involved including Onje and his board members should return to the committee on Thursday for the continuation of the investigation. He said all concerned will be given room to make their presentations and defend themselves when the investigation reopens today.