THREE former ministers are to face trial over the $470million Lagos and Abuja Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) contract – if the government accepts a committee’s recommendation.
The House of Representatives adhoc committee’s report indicted the ministers who served between 2010 and 2014 in the Ministry of Police Affairs, which handled the project during the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The ministers – Alhaji Adamu Waziri, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (retd) and Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan – as well as a former Permanent Secretary of the defunct ministry, Mr. James Obeigbu, allegedly mismanaged funds meant for the installation of the cameras.
The chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ahmed Yerima, tabled the report yesterday, but its debate was put off till next week. This is the second time this week that the report has been stood down.
Among others, the report recommends that:
*the former ministers and officials of the defunct Ministry of Police Affairs (who served between 2010 and 2014) should be prosecuted over the rationale and motive for the removal and or disappearance of the operational and maintenance costs of the project from its initial proposals, as that singular act contributed to the non-performance of the network;
- former Permanent Secretary of the defunct ministry Mr. James Obeigbu be prosecuted for deliberately refusing to release N3billion meant for network operations and maintenance;
- ZTE Nigeria Limited, which was awarded the contract, should refund the discrepancy amount certified after the audit exercise or supply equipment and spares of commensurate value as may be required by the ministry, otherwise, the figure should be deducted from the outstanding debt of US$20,247,172.00 certified by the Ministry of Police Affairs as being owed ZTE for running the network from January to June, 2013;
*•a forensic audit of the outstanding debt being owed ZTE for running the system for several months should be conducted and the actual cost be verified and considered at the exchange rate of US dollar at that period (2013). Thus, the equivalent of the cost established after the verification in USD in year 2013, should be calculated and paid to ZTE to save the country the extra cost.
- the Executive should not privatise the National Public Security Communication-System (NPSCS). It should be ceded to the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), which is the statutory body overseeing all security agencies; and
*that the Office of the NSA should set up a department that reports directly to the NSA. It will direct the activities of the NPSCS by utilising the trained engineers on the system from NIGCOMSAT and the Police to maintain the active elements, as well as, training of other security agencies to join the operations, and to supervise the activities of Managed Service Providers.
The House will next week debate the report.
The CCTV contract was awarded in 2008 for $470 million under the National Public Security Communications System (NPSCS).
Only 40 cameras were working, of the 1000 installed in Abuja. The contractors said they were in the process of re-activating the remaining 960, which they said were vandalised.
Despite claims by the contractor that the $470m CCTV project under the National Security Communications System (NPSCS) was completed and delivered to the Federal government in 2012, the Committee found out that only 40 cameras were functioning in Abuja.
The investigation was launched following the adoption of a motion on October 15, 2015, when it was revealed that the country was short-changed in the execution of the contracts awarded by the Jonathan administration.
The Ahmed Yerima-led ad hoc committee noted that the naira equivalent of the money was over a trillion.
The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) said due process was not followed in the award of the contract.
Prior to the public hearing on the projects, Yerima, in a statement, recalled how the Seventh House of Representatives conducted a similar probe, but the report did not see the light of day.
A Chinese firm, ZTE, handled the projects and reportedly stalled the process after collecting $100m of the contract value.
The committee explained that $100m was around 20 per cent of N6.07trillion 2016 national budget.
The committee gave details of the projects: “The contract for the installation of CCT cameras in Abuja and Lagos by the Ministry of Police Affairs is part of a larger project titled: ‘Nigerian National Public Security Communications System, facilitated by an EXIM Bank of China loan.
“The CCTV camera installations is only an integral part of the entire project, which includes the installation of 2,000 digital solar-powered cameras, 1,000 each for Abuja and Lagos; 37 switch rooms, microwave backbone; 37 coalition emergency response systems; 38 video conference subs-systems; 37 e-police systems; six emergency communication vehicles; and 1.5million phone lines for subscribers to generate revenue. “
On the opening day of the public hearing on 28 January 2016, Hon. Yerima said security was a major issue that led to the concept of a larger project, the National Public Security Communication System (NPSCS) of which the installation of CCTV was just a part.
“The purpose of the CCTV contract was to facilitate real time, online communication between security agencies to enhance their capacities in fighting crime.
“Failure to complete the NPSCS contract has its attendant negative effect on the capacity of our security agencies to fight crime as they ought to do. The need to resolve the issue of the failed contract quickly and move forward will reposition the crime fighting capacity of our security agencies.
“Bomb attacks on Abuja would have been reduced to the barest minimum and investigation made easier, had these cameras and security network systems been in place,” Yerima said.
The Director General (DG) of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Emeka Eze, said due process was jettisioned in the award of the contract.
Explaining that the execution of a contract of such magnitude ought to have been issued a certificate by the BPP, Eze added: “The contract for the CCTV installation in Abuja and Lagos under the NPSCS was not processed at BPP prior to the award.
“Considering the purported sum of the contract to the tune of $470m, the contract ought to have been accompanied by the certificate of no objection issued by the BPP.”
ZTE Nigeria Managing Director, Mr. Hao Fuqiang reiterated at the public hearing that the NPSCS project was completed and delivered as one of world’s best Video Surveillance System (VSS) to the Federal Government.
According to Hao, the NPSCS project is made up of five components or subsystems Comprising Global Open Trunking Architecture (GoTa) Sub-system. This is the dominant component of the system.
It is a CDMA based voice and data telecommunications system with national coverage. It operates through 2Nos Mobile Switch Centre (MSC) with one each in Lagos and Abuja, 12Nos Base Station Controller (BSC), 675 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and 21 Microwave repeaters. The GoTa system supports the deployment of 1.5 million subscriber lines.
It also includes Video Surveillance Subsystem, which comprises 2000 surveillance cameras with a thousand each installed in Abuja and Lagos.
The ZTE boss explained that the GoTA technology deployed in the NPSCS project had grown to be the global leader in specialised digital truncking standards. It has been deployed in over 40 countries including Norway, Poland , Russia, Ghana, Morocco, Chech Republic and China, among others.
Hao said: “The VSS was also successfully used by the Nigerian Police on some instances, such as Abuja Airport incident involving theft of US$1million, tracking and arresting of drug dealers in Oshodi, Lagos and capturing of the Lagos Airport robbery.”
The then Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, said contrary to widely held view, the police high command was not involved when the project was conceptualised.
Represented by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mrs Amisor Onu, the IGP acknowledged that there was a building housing the control switch and other facilities of the NPSCS project at the Police Headquarters in Abuja.
“The building is there as we speak. Since we came on board, nothing is functioning there. There is no fuel to run the control room,” he said.