Firms, PENCOM officials slam House of Reps planned public hearing

Firms, PENCOM officials slam House of Reps planned public hearing

- As a joint committee of the National Assembly plans a public hearing on PenCom, invited firms and officials of the organisation raise eyebrows

- Some of the aggrieved PenCom officials wonder why the probe should suddenly commence a year after the resolution of the lawmakers on the issue

- Those invited accuse the committee of shielding some others who have questions to answer

The former director-general of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Chinelo-Anohu Amazu, is prepared to appear before the joint committee of the National Assembly on procurement.

The committee's sitting, according to findings by Legit.ng, was slated for Tuesday, May 14 and Amazu, it was learnt, is eager to set the records straight concerning procurement under her tenure.

Legit.ng learnt that the companies invited to the public hearing may not be comfortable following the alleged controversies hanging on some of the committee members.

Officials of PenCom also criticised the timing and alleged 'selectiveness' in the invitations to the hearing as advertised in some national dailies. Those who spoke about it alleged cover-up.

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They wondered why the head of the House of Representatives committee on procurement, Hon Wole Oke, can sit over another probe after a recent accusation by the former chairman of an ongoing House investigation concerning allegations of corruption and illegalities.

“The former DG was overseas when she was informed of a publication on Thursday (May 9) indicating that there would be a public hearing on Monday over procurements under her tenure as DG.

"She quickly cut short her trip and returned to the country at the weekend to make sure she appeared before the House to set the records straight.

“It is public knowledge that her tenure as DG has been hailed by both and international stakeholders as a brilliant one underscored by due process, transparency, and accountability," a close aide to Amazu said.

Speaking about the planned hearing, a senior official in one of the invited firms alleged cover-up and diversionary tactics between the chairman of the panel and a top management staff of PenCom.

The director, who preferred to remain anonymous pending when he would read out the company’s written memoranda at the hearing, said: “You see, some companies that carried out procurements at PenCom in the period under review were carefully left out in the list of companies invited to the hearing."

He accused Hon Oke of shielding some affected persons from submitting the documents requested by the ongoing House probe regarding suspected phony contracts in PenCom while also alleging that the co-chair of the panel, Hassan Shekarau, may be an interested party in the probe.

"But we are going to lay all that bare at the hearing. Nobody is a child here," he said.

Some other invited officials wondered why the investigation was coming one whole year after the House resolution on the matter.

"Some people probably thought that the then DG had made so much money and wanted her and the commissioners, who served under her to run, tails in-between their legs, to beg them and settle. So, when that didn’t happen, they lost the motivation to execute the House resolution," an official explained.

He said now that the House authorised another panel which is doing a thorough job over the missing N33 billion, contract scams, collection of hundreds of millions in estacodes for local and foreign trips that a current official of PenCom never embarked upon as well as other alleged illegalities, "they now came up with this kangaroo probe, after one year."

According to him, the probe is meant to divert attention from an already ongoing probe and to also buy time since the eighth National Assembly will end soon.

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He wondered why the panel did not invite the current acting head of PenCom who was the head of procurement in the organisation since 2009 and throughout the period under the investigation.

“In any case, we are going to meet them at the pubic hearing, hoping they would allow full media coverage. There are lots of things Nigerians needed to know," he said.

At the time of this report, efforts to reach Hon Oke and Hassan Shekarau had not yielded any result.

However, Legit.ng had reported that members of the House of Representatives recently summoned the heads of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), ministry of finance and civil service of the federation over National Pension Commission (PenCom) probe..

The lawmakers led by Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, chairman of the ad-hoc committee investigating PenCom, requested that the agencies and ministries involved bring relevant documents in the ongoing probe for a sitting scheduled to hold on Thursday, February 7.

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Source: Legit

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