The Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has enlisted the help of anti-graft agencies to investigate top officials of the Federal Ministry of Power for paying N1.68 billion to a UK Firm, Rockson International Group Limited whose parent company in Nigeria is currently indebted to the Federal Government and in receivership.

The Details: Nairametrics gathered that the parent company, Rockson Engineering Company Limited was owing the Federal Government the sum of N121.55 billion but Rockson International Group Limited was contracted regardless to complete a power project.

The power project in question is a 215MW ongoing project in Kaduna, which is part of the Nigerian National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), of which about $16 billion was budgeted but only $8.5 billion has been spent since 2005.

AMCON was not comfortable with the decision of the ministry to award the contract to the firm. It enlisted the help of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to commence investigations into the payment.

The EFCC has commenced investigations to unravel why the Ministry chose to by-pass the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) which is in charge of all NIPP projects and chose the UK firm instead.

[READ MORE: N1.5 billion Probe: Contractor could land in EFCC net for abandoning CCB project]

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AMCON’s decision to unearth the rather strange payment was disclosed in a letter dated August 27, 2019, to the Ministry signed by Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director and the Group Head, Enforcement, Joshua Ikioda.

AMCON is worried that work on the power project may be stalled due to the strange payment even though the project is nearing completion stage.

Part of the letter said, “Please refer to our letter ref. no. AMC/ABJ/ENG/19/1456/JTA/40729 dated January 18, 2019 and sundry correspondences in the same regard.

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The appointment of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as Receiver Manager of Rockson Engineering Limited (RECL) and the reasons for the actions were conveyed to your Ministry vide our letters September 24, 2018, and January 18, 2019, respectively.

Most importantly, this appointment was made for the purpose of supporting the Federal Government’s Power Sector development efforts.

The reason for the appointment of the Receiver Manager was made clear in the Receiver’s letter dated September 24, 2018, in which you were informed that RECL had persistently failed to meet its financial obligations to AMCON which stood at over N121.55 billion as at August 31, 2018.

The company’s indebtedness is directly attributable to weak governance practices and mismanagement which resulted in the company’s abysmal failure to discharge its contractual obligations of completing the NIPP and Kaduna Power Projects.

“To make matters worse for the projects, Rockson International Group Limited, UK (RIGL), the offshore company engaged to carry our procurement and services in collaboration is fully owned and operated by the same shareholders and directors as Rockson Engineering Company Limited.

“The offshore company is similarly bedevilled by weak governance practices and mismanagement resulting in huge outstanding offshore claims by contracting parties.

“The unwholesome activities of both RECL and RIGL are currently under criminal investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).”

[READ ALSO: Senate to probe NEPZA over 14.3 billion illegal transfer]

Further Developments: Further findings by AMCON disclosed that the N1.68 billion (EUR4,150,479.71) was paid in six tranches.

However, in a related development, a source from the EFCC said AMCON’s petition was being investigated and the outcome of the investigation could be ground-shaking.

Our detectives have started looking into who authorized the payment, why normal payment channel was sidelined and why AMCON was sidelined.

What those in charge did was to split the payment into tranches which investigators are curious to know. We are already engaging in internal investigation of how the payment came about. All those implicated will face the wrath of the law,” the source said.

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