Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is probing the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE for allegedly paying N1.45billion as legal and consultancy fees to some lawyers including a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN (name withheld), purportedly for the liquidation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
A senior official of the anti-graft agency told Nigerian Pilot yesterday that officials of the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, are assisting EFCC operatives with vital information on how top officers of the BPE connived with the lawyers to defraud the Federal Government of the huge funds.
The source disclosed that N950million of the money was paid to one of the lawyers, who is also a counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the liquidation of PHCN when the company was no longer in existence.
He added that another N500million consultancy fees went to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, stressing that the fees were paid contrary to the advice of the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN and the BPP.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that the EFCC swung into action based on a report by the BPP via a letter dated June 27, 2015 to the anti-graft agency.
The source revealed that the commission had already invited the Director-General of BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, four serving directors of the bureau, two directors in the office of the AGF and the affected SAN.
He said that they would be quizzed by the EFCC to explain why N1.4billion was paid as legal fees after the BPP and the then AGF queried the transactions.
A BPP official also told Nigerian Pilot that: “We have submitted a letter to the EFCC to look into the circumstances behind the payment of legal and consultancy fees. It is left to the anti-graft agency to interact with those involved.
“We had in a letter dated September 22, 2014, told the BPE that Due Process Certificate of ‘No Objection’ cannot be granted to the Bureau of Public Enterprises for the appointment of the legal firm.
“We also drew the attention of the Director-General of BPE to Section 12.30 of the revised Review Report for consideration and necessary action.
“In another letter on December 24, 2014, the BPP advised the BPE against going ahead with the procurement of the legal service for the winding up of PHCN.
“The legal advisory services for the winding up of PHCN were no longer required, based on the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice by the letter of September 11, 2014.
“It was surprising to the BPP that the BPE went ahead to pay about N1billion to a lawyer without following due process.”
The Director-General, Mr. Emeka M. Ezeh, said in a letter that no instruction was received from the AGF nullifying the earlier directive.
The letter read: “The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), having examined the request, wishes to draw the attention of the BPE to Paragraph 14 of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF)’s letter to the BPP referenced that “items 1,3,5,6 and 8 of the scope of work for the Legal Advisor unnecessary for the liquidation of the PHCN.
“Similarly, any of the remaining items 2,4,7 and 9, which is not contemplated by the procedure described in Sections 457-468 (and there is hardly any contemplated) would equally be unnecessary to accomplish the liquidation.”
“It can be deduced from the above citation that the HAGF’s position on this procurement clearly indicates that Legal Advisory Service is not needed as all constituent items (1-9) under unnecessary as listed by the HAGF constitute all items under the Legal Advisory Service, as such; no item is left for BPP’s consideration for a further review,” he said.


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