Legal Nigeria

NAFDAC crisis gets messier

The crisis rocking the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has assumed a new dimension as BusinessDay has obtained details of financial transactions under the agency’s director-general, Paul Orhii.
The face-off between Orhii and Ademola Mogbojuri, the former finance director, degenerated when the latter was moved to head the planning, research and statistics department and later transferred to the NAFDAC Training Institute in Kaduna within a month.
A source, who spoke with our correspondent on Monday, on condition of anonymity, alleged that the director-general owned most of the consultancy firms operating with the Agency. The firms, the source said, were registered under various names and used as conduit pipes for siphoning funds.
Documents obtained by our correspondent revealed that NAFDAC paid three media firms: Fahasoj Communication, Mediacraft and Symbiotic Communication over N10 million for consultancy between June 20 to June 24, 2014, with an outstanding payment of N160 million.
Also, a memo from Abubakar Jimoh, the NAFDAC director of special duties, further revealed that the Agency spent N263.5 million for souvenirs and gifts for members of the National Assembly, birthday adverts for former President Goodluck Jonathan and former first lady, Patience Jonathan, among others.
The memo titled: ‘Payment for urgent activities before 31st December, 2013′ was dated December 3 of the same year.
Breakdown of the amount showed that N8.6 million was spent on purchase of Christmas/New Year gifts (rice, cow, vegetable oil) for VIP and journalists in Abuja; Christmas/New Year gifts for House and Senate (N20m); corporate gifts for Senate president, minister of health, secretary to the government of the federation and chief of staff to the president (N15m); supply of hamper (N2.5m); birthday adverts for president and first lady (N3.3m); productivity bonus (N85m); Christmas/New Year gifts for NAFDAC council members (N5.5m); sitting allowance and tour for council members (N5.4m), among others.
Similarly, in response to a petition by a contractor – Messrs Davoris Limited – against NAFDAC, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), stated that the construction of perimeter fence and gatehouse at Kyami District, Cadastral Zone was over-valued with over N35.4 million.
According to the Bureau, after carrying out a valuation of the entire work done by the recommended contractor – Messrs Nzechonyem Ventures – it reasoned that the rates quoted by the contractor were extremely high. BPP therefore revised the contract sum from N158,448,052.77 to N122,953,059.41.
The letter, dated April 1, 2015, and signed by the director-general of the Bureau, Emeka Ezeh, was addressed to the NAFDAC boss.
“In addition, NAFDAC should note that ordinarily, Messrs Nzechonyem Ventures Limited having been adjudged disqualified ought not to have been the winner of the bid, however considering the status of the project which is almost completed, the Bureau is of the view that for overall public interest and to achieve value for money, the contractor should be allowed to complete the remaining work but at a price which is reasonable, fair and reflects the actual work done on site. The new contract sum is therefore N122,953,059.41,” the letter read in part.
But speaking at a news conference at the weekend, Isa Ibrahim, chairman, Medical and Health Workers’ Union of the Agency, accused Mogbojuri of gross misconduct and financial impropriety.
Ibrahim accused the former finance director of demanding bribe before releasing approved monies for projects and the day-to-day running of the agency, adding that he refused to pay workers’ entitlements on time.
“On numerous occasions, the DG would approve funds to carry out some projects but the directorate of finance, rather than honour the approval, would tell us there is no money. The director in question was transferred recently to another section but he refused to go. He does not obey or regard the DG or any constituted authority. Nobody should be bigger than NAFDAC. It is an act of insubordination that we must not allow to continue.
“We have been experiencing anarchy and impunity from that director over the years. He messed up the entire place and we are happy and stand by the DG for finally getting him out of the finance department,” he said.
Business Day