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Task Force stops N24bn fraud attempt in PHCN

By on November 17, 2012

The Presidential Task Force on Power yesterday uncovered a plan in Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) branch in Lagos to defraud the Federal Government of over N24 billion.

The task force sealed the PHCN store located in Ojo area of Lagos after discovering the plan.

Reports indicate that the plan was almost successful if not for the Task force’ unscheduled visit to the store, Ikeja Distribution Company, and. Eko Distribution Company, led by the Minister for Power Haji Zainab Kuchi.

The ministry almost approved a request to purchase existing equipment in the store, which had not been disbursed.

The Minister was accompanied by the Task Force Chairman Engr, Dagogo Jack, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Dere Awosika, and its Vice Chairman, Maj. Gen. Adebayo Ashimiyu Olaniyi.

”Just last week, the Permanent Secretary processed documents requesting a lot of things that are lying down in the store running into N24 billion”, the minister lamented.

The team immediately ordered that the store be sealed off as soon as they discovered the contents of the store, she said, the store contained many things that would have moved the sector forward.

Maj.Gen. Olaniyi immediately after the discoveries were made, ordered the commanding officers of Ojo Military Barracks to take over the place and ensure that nothing leaves or comes in to the place until investigation is concluded.
According to the minister she received a proposal of N24 billion to purchase the same items they found in the store.
She said if not for the discovery the items in the store would have been sold back to the Federal Government for N24 billion and the money would have gone into private pockets, thereby stunting the growth of the sector.
“The equipment here is more expensive than any other equipment because they run into billions, single equipment here can cost a million dollars. If we have this much in a sector of power that we believe needs all these things, we wonder why they are still here.

“This is a discovery for us and we are happy that we came here to see these things today.

“Eventually, if we find out that there are people who masterminded this, we will allow due process to catch up with them because it is sad that such a thing could happen,” she said.

The Task Force Chairman, Mr Jack, who said that the cartel was bent on making sure that the power sector failed, said an inventory officer was drugged since of the inspection.

He said the officer, who is being treated in a hospital, will be visited by the committee.

According to the chairperson, “The challenge we have is that we currently grow electricity at the generation level. We have sizeable electricity for it to move down to the room. These people must do the right thing. The transmission must be good.

“The transmission is turning out to be a very weak link and some of the evidence we saw here show why it is so. You have electrical elements lying here for six years, why did you order them and keep the here for that long? If you do not need them and some of them had been ordered three times over, why?

“Basically government is here to make sure that this has to stop. The Task Force has taken over these assets. They can only be allowed to move from here to project and not any other place,” he said.