The National Assembly have begun to probe the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the awarding of contracts totaling over N18.9 billion to numerous contractors to clear bushes during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Mr Oluwole Oke, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts made the announcement on Tuesday at an inquiry hearing in Abuja.
He said that the House was curious about the location and importance of such projects. He revealed that the ministry and the involved corporations had thus been invited by the committee.
However, the invited firms conspicuously skipped the hearing without giving a valid excuse.
Oke lamented that the companies were excited to “appear before the committee on investigation of contracts awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of roads, bush clearing, land preparation and rehabilitation of soil and plant laboratories video utilisation of funds from Service Wide vote between 2013 and 2021 totalling N18,924,004,359.38.”
According to him, “during the lockdown of the country as a result of COVID 19, some companies took contracts worth about N18 billion for bush clearing from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others. We cannot shave their head in their absence.
“So, we have invited them to come and give us their own side by responding to the issues and show us the places they are supposed to have cleared. They have to take us to the land they cleared.
“We have invited the companies that got the contract for them to come and tell this committee where and when the jobs were executed.
“We will wait till the end of the hearing today to see if they will appear. If they are not here, we will have to do the needful to get them to come.”