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Report unravels reason National Assembly disengaged non performing ICT firms

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Report unravels reason National Assembly disengaged non performing ICT firms

***As NGO accuses contractors of blackmail against CNA

The National Assembly has explained that it sacked two Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firms due to breach of contract.

The firms it was gathered were engaged in 2018 to carry out an “Internet Bandwidth Connectivity Upgrade Project” within the National Assembly, according to an audit report sighted by our reporter in Abuja.

This is coming even as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) accused the indicted and sacked firms of orchestrating a campaign of calumny against the Clerk to the National Assembly, Arc. Ojo Olatunde Amos.

A group under the auspices of Equity and Transparency Development Initiative,
had accused the CNA of “aiding espionage” and influencing award of ICT contract to a company in which he alleged had vested interest.

In a petition, the body urged the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate its allegations against the CNA.

The petition was sequel to the formal disengagement of the indicted consultancy firms by the National Assembly.

The report disclosed that of the three ICT firms engaged by the National Assembly to upgrade its internet bandwidth, only one was found to have fulfilled its contractual obligations.

It lamented that the other two firms, now disengaged due to their alleged failure to live up to the terms of award of the contract following a comprehensive audit of their services, were found to have shortchanged the National Assembly by delivering far less internet bandwidth than what was paid for by the National Assembly.

According to the report, it was required of the three vendors to supply internet services directly to the National Assembly Data Centre from a Tier-1 Service Provider in accordance with their service provisioning engagement terms.

However, the findings indicated that two of the vendors sourced their services from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) licensed Tier-1 Service Providers, while internet services from the third firm was not sourced from a Tier-1 Service Provider.

The report further noted that while an Autonomous System Number (ASN) registration was primarily to ensure that the National Assembly network is autonomous from service provider control as a unique identification number, the following anomalies were discovered:

“The supposedly Autonomous System Number assigned to National Assembly (a government entity) was actually registered to a private company by one of the vendors.

“The IP (Internet Protocol) Prefixes of …supposedly bought for the National Assembly with 1,024 public IP Addresses was divided into four prefixes, out of which only 256 IP Addresses were assigned to the National Assembly and the remaining 786 IP Addresses were assigned to (one of the firms), thereby using NASS network infrastructure and resources for their private enterprise.”

The report also indicated that the Managing Director of one of the sacked firms, is also the official administrator of the ASN and a major stakeholder in another firm that is the registered owner of the ASN purportedly arranged on behalf of the National Assembly.

“The implication is that the management of the ASN is solely in the hands of (the two private firms). This act is a major exposure to NASS, and at will, they can manipulate the NASS network for personal gain and hold it to ransom,” the report surmised.

In its recommendations, the report noted that the management of the National Assembly’s core ICT infrastructure should be the “prioritised responsibilities” of its ICT department as the “sensitive task of Autonomous System (AS) registration and network management shouldn’t have been outsourced to any consultant without departmental involvement for checks and balance purposes.”

It added: “However, ICT infrastructure installations, configurations and maintenance could be contracted out with departmental supervision to prevent any breaches.

“National Assembly Autonomous System registration that was wrongly registered with (a private firm) as the owner should be reverted immediately to the National Assembly that paid legally for the said registration or ICT department should do a new ASN registration specifically for (the) National Assembly.

“As it was reported in the findings (one of the vendors) failed the entire network integrity test carried out and considering the firms’ Managing Director’s questionable role in the NASS ASN registration saga, hence the vendor should be disengaged.”

The report further recommended that the company that failed to source bandwidth from the NCC licensed Tier-1 Service Providers should be disengaged.

“Based on the discoveries during the investigation of the purpoted Autonomous System Number (ASN) registration for National Assembly, a gross misconduct act was established against the ICT Facilities Management Consulting Firm ……by colluding with (the) Managing Director of …to register NASS paid ASN for their company’s commercial venture, and also diverted NASS Network Infrastructure and resources for their private enterprise.

“Thus, … should be disengaged as National Assembly ICT Consultant as it’s evident that their role in the management of ICT infrastructure creates more confusion than providing the needed solutions,” the report said.

The Audit further revealed that NASS sensitive enterprise server infrastructure containing the database of Legislators, management and staff of the National Assembly is being managed and control by a Ghanaian with on regulated access to entire NASS ICT infrastructure.

Noteworthy is that Contract of the firm that this Ghanaian represents has elapsed since 2016 and refuses to handover the credentials of the servers to the ICT department until new Amos Ojo administration recovered the infrastructure from the cartel and block all the turnel created for their remote control of NASS ICT infrastructure.

Meanwhile an NGO – the Nigeria Good Governance Research Centre (NIGOGOREC) in a statement in Abuja by its Executive Director, Comrade Igbotako Nowinta, in Abuja described the allegations against the CNA as “frivolous, baseless and unfounded.”

Nowinta accused the four indicted ICT firms that were sacked following the recommendations in the report, of masterminding the said petition to the ICPC as a revenge against the management of the National Assembly, especially the CNA.

The statement reads in part: “While, we support and encourage the ICPC to dispassionately carry out its statutory function concerning this matter, it is also imperative that members of the Nigerian public should critically and objectively view this carefully orchestrated witch-hunt solely aimed to distract Ojo Olatunde Amos unduly.

“The frivolous allegation of espionage against the person of Ojo Olatunde Amos, a patriotic Nigerian whom we are aware has no dual citizenship and the Chief Accounting officer of the National Assembly, is of great concern.

“However, it is important as well that we set the record straight for record purposes. Firstly, Sunnet System and Datacom Services Limited were engaged in September 2019, long before Ojo Olatunde Amos assumed duty as the Clerk to the National Assembly to carry out forensic audit of the National Assembly ICT infrastructure and services.

“The report of that exercise clearly exposed the humungous rot and corruption being perpetrated by the ICT contractors…hired by the National Assembly then.

“Upon assumption of duty and discovery of the sorry state of National Assembly ICT with attendant grave implications on the functionality of the institution as an Arm of government and the National Security implications of leaving sensitive national database in the hand of foreigner, Ojo Olatunde Amos swiftly commenced the sanitization of the ICT unit of the National Assembly, given the magnitude of indictment against the former contractors.”

The Amos Ojo lead administration has upgraded the internet bandwidth capability from supposed 930MBPS (shared connectivity) to 1.55GBPS dedicated internet bandwidth with connectiviy extension to the residences of top leadership and management of National Assembly.

In compliance with the COVID-19 remote working protocol, the Administration has also arranged unlimited mobile data with Mifi devices for all the Senators, Honorable Members and Top Management Staff down to Director Cadre to facilitate remote connectivity and workings.

Indeed the current administration initiatives has blocked so many waste and drains, saving the National Assembly millions of Naira.

END

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Legislature

Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

The Senate has raised the alarm that Nigeria is presently under siege from murderous non – state actors, whose activities are threatening the cooperate existence of the country.

To make the matter more scary records from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), indicated that out of 500 million Illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70%, are domiciled in Nigeria for evil activities of criminally minded people .

Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Made the frightening submissions at the public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms Act 2004 ( Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 ( Repeal and Re – Enactment) Bill 2021.

He said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation.

Sani the sponsor of the Firearms (Amendment) Bill lamented that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.

He said, “We are gathered here to deal with a matter that has profound implications for our collective survival.

“We are under siege from murderous non – state actors. They have been acquiring arms illegally, maiming our people and threatening the continued existence of our dear Nation. 

“We either take measures to deny them of the oxygen that sustains their nefarious activities, or we watch helplessly as they overrun us and our country.”

The main aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act, he explained, is to curtail the proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.

He lamented that “The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, has reached an alarming proportion.

“Analysts estimate that out of the 500 million weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, can be found in Nigeria.

“A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31st , 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 Pump Action Riffles imported from China into our country.

“More recently in Benue State, a local militia had the temerity to kill an Army Captain and 11 Soldiers not to talk of reign of terror in Owerri, Imo State by Gunmen who launched coordinated attacks on the Police headquarters and Correctional Centre .

“Something must be done urgently to curtail arms proliferation, the very reason for the proposed amendment bill on  the existing Firearms Act”, he said .

He listed the five major objectives of the amendment bill to include imposition of stiffer penalties for offences under the Act .

One of such penalties is the one under section 27 (sub section 1c), which proposed increase of fine from N1,000 to N1million .

Representative of Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Oladayo Amao, in his submission, objected to the N1million proposed fine on illegal possession of firearms arguing for its upward review to N2million.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the joint Commitee, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said the purpose of the two bills were to further strengthen the Nigerian extant laws against illegal firearms possession and proliferation as well as making provisions of the Act on Exclusive Economic Zone to be in line with global practices as far as protection of the Nation’s territorial sea or waters are concerned.

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RCCG insists on refund of money for job not done on Ife-Ifewara road

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RCCG insists on refund of money for job not done on Ife-Ifewara road

*** FG denies payment of N151m to construction coy

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has debunked the claim by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) that it paid N151m to the Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited as part payment for a road project awarded to it but abandoned.

This was coming as the church apologized to the ministry for not following due process in executing the project but insisted whatever money was paid to the contractor be refunded to the coffers of the federal government. 

The RCCG however indicated that the apology does not in any way remove the fact which is the core of the petition that Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited should be made to refund every single kobo collected.

Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, A senior official of the RCCG, had petitioned the Senate, alleging that the ministry officials paid N151m to the firm for the construction of Ife-Ifewara Road in Osun State, which was rehabilitated by the church part of its corporate social responsibility. 

Adebanjo submitted the petition on behalf of the church’s General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

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, in Osun State which the church constructed.

“The church hereby request 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,” it said. 

But the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said there was no payment made to the construction firm since the coming of this administration. 

Speaking on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Fashola said the construction of the 15km-long road was awarded in 2010 at a cost of N662.7 million. 

He said only money paid to the contractor was the N99.4million, which 15% of the contract sum as mobilisation fee, and N52million on 29 December 2011. 

“The two payments made to Cartill Construction Nigeria Limited were made on 31 March 2011 and 29 December 2011 respectively, four (4) years before the commencement of this Administration in 2015,” he said. 

He said the contractor did not make a claim for a refund for the cost expended on the rehabilitation of the road between 2016 and 2019 and that the ministry did not make any payment to firm. 

Fashola said the petitioner, RCCG, did not seek or obtain the approval of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing prior to or during the rehabilitation of the Road.

Fashola said: “The facts have shown that there is no basis for this. The allegations as reported are essentially false. 
“They bother on defamatory and I hope that the petitioner after listening to this will do the right thing and tender an apology. I think he got his facts all mixed up.”

“A request made to the Ministry by the Petitioner under the Freedom of Information Act would have avoided the cost of this hearing and saved taxpayers’ funds,” he added.

Responding, Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, who spoke for the church, acknowledged that the process that leads to the construction of the road is faulted. 

He said: “Those things he pointed out we agree point blank that it was our omission and it is not going to reoccur on our future dealings on our interventions any moment we decide to do it.” 

He added: “There is no doubting the fact that the Ministry of Works deserves an apology from us and because the whole world is listening to us, I tender that apology unreservedly before this Senate Committee. However, I am saying that those things he pointed out we agree point blank that it was our omission and it is not going to reoccur on our future dealings on our interventions any moment we decide to do it. 

“So, Honourable Minister, on behalf of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, I like to apologize to you for whatever this has brought to the government under your watch. 

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National Food reserve Agency Bill scales through amidst opposition at senate

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National Food reserve Agency Bill scales through amidst opposition at senate

The Senate, on Wednesday, passed a bill seeking to establish the National Food Reserve Agency for Food security despite disagreement over its powers by senators.

Before the bill was passed, senators engaged in a heated debate over the powers of the National Assembly to legislate on the establishment of the agency. 
However, the Bill saw the light of day when the President ruled in its favor..

The bill was passed after the Red Chamber considered the report of its committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in his presentation, said, when established, it is expected to implement the overall National Food Reserve Policy to ensure a reliable supply of designated commodities in the country
He said with the existence of the agency, emergency food crises will be taken care of especially during the period of pandemic.

“There will also be a reduction in post-harvest losses as silos, warehouses, equipment, ancillary facilities and other suitable storage facilities will be installed and maintained,” he said.

Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun) had raised a constitutional matter that the National Assembly did not have the power to legislate on the establishment of the food reserve agency, citing section 4 of the 1999 constitution to back up his argument.

But Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger), Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi) countered Bashiru’s submission, arguing that the federal parliament is constitutionally empowered to legislate on matter of security and welfare of the people.

They said the agency was needed owing to the acute insecurity across the country, which has had effect on food production.

Senator James Manager (Rivers) said though there is need for the agency due to the situation in the country, sentiments cannot counter effectively the constitutional matter raised by Ajibola Basiru. 

He asked his colleagues to step down the 
the consideration of the report to another legislative day.

But Senate President Ahmad Lawan disagreed and ruled that the Red Chamber should go ahead with the legislation.

Lawan said: “From a constitutional point of order our colleague raised that we don’t have such power, I think the National Assembly has such powers. I think the emergency in this country requires that we do everything possible to rescue, protect the lives and property of the people of this country.

“I believe we should go ahead to do our legislation.

“If anyone outside feels that the legislation is wrong, that person can go to the court so that the legislation is nullified and that is one thing with the practice of democracy.

“But I believe that Nigerians at the moment need this kind of legislation.”

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