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Senate Expresses Concern Over N350m Swap Scheme

Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate’s legislative scrutiny into the 2016 Budget proposal produced another shocking revelation on Tuesday as some N350 million alleged fraud was discovered in the land swap scheme for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) through the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).

Chairman Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Dino Melaye, said that the Committee will not hesitate to ensure that all administrative anomalies, misappropriation of funds or misapplication of the laws as the case maybe occasioned by the past administration of the FCT demands justice in the way and manner lands were allocated to investors in the land swap scheme.

In his observation, Melaye said that the entire report of the process is cumbersome and ambiguous.

He stressed that such an important project is expected to undergo a pilot scheme engaging one or two districts as projects samples.

He explained that project is massive and too important to be ridiculed, which clearly displays some elements of favouritism.

“The committee notes that despite the good intention of the land swap initiative, the coordinators of the programme failed to follow the principle of due process. There was flagrant disregard for financial regulations and the extant laws.

“The programme was hijacked by super powers of this country, thereby making the coordinators lose focus,” he said

He said that some of the addresses provided by the investors could not be traced and the Committee’s communication could not get them.

He added that the amount derived from each investors is not stated or captured in FCTA submission and the total amount accrued to FCTA is also not stated.

A member of the Committee, Senator Albert Bassey, drew the attention of other members of the Committee that the magnitude of pre-qualification given to investors in paying an initial payment of N350 million, which is not under the control of FCT.

“Of what essence are you saying that investors must make an initial payment of N350 million and in your further submission this is not under the control of FCT,” he queried.

Answering questions from the Committee, Coordinator FCTA, Faruok Sanni, noted that all the questions that were asked were captured in the presentation before.

Sanni added that it is important to understand the structure of the programme.

“With respect to the issue when i said no allocation has been made, the structure of the relationship in such that allocation will only be made on when the investors started putting in the infrastructure if you look at our framework,” added.

Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, noted that the land swap policy is one of the recent policies that have been in public discourse for quite sometime from all stakeholders particularly members of the National Assembly.

He stressed that it was also one of the policies that the generality of the public demanded and now requested that we should look at it.

“I assured this Committee that whatever it decides, based on your findings and analysis of all the presentations made and want to be made, that the Ministry, under my leadership, will ensure that all the decisions taken by your distinguished committee will be implemented.

“Like I mentioned to you this is one policy that has been of great concern to many of the stakeholders who have communicated with us. Obviously, because of the technical nature of the matter, I have this morning come together with all the relevant heads of department and all the experts and if time permits I think they will take us through the entire process from the very beginning up to the end,” he said.

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