Nigeria

Reps seek amicable resolution of N72bn Nigerian Air Force contract

The House of Representatives Joint Committees on Air Force and Justice has embarked on an oversight function to carry out on the spot assessment on the alleged excessive use of force by the Nigerian Air Force Property against Blue Boulevard Nigeria Limited.

This is coming months after the House in a petition by Blue Boulevard flagged-off investigation into the petition submitted to the House.

The Company is accusing the Nigeria Airforce property of using excessive force and military might to stall the multi-million naira contract for the construction of a shopping mall at the Mami market in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The lawmakers who spoke during the physical oversight of the project, requested for the bill of quantities, engineering drawing and joint evaluation report tendered during the bidding process.

In his remarks, Hon. Dekor Robinson who led the delegation promised to be fair and transparent in their report.

“The reason why we are here is to visit the site and this is in furtherance of our duties as it affects this particular investigation as it affects the House.

“Whatever we are going to do here, will form part of our report to be submitted to plenary. So what we expect from you is to give us the best cooperation so that we can address this issue and have a permanent resolution to this particular problem.

“Our mission here is mere fact-finding so I crave your indulgence to give us the best in terms of contributions. After the inspection, I will expect that we also sit briefly to address one or two issues before we depart,” Hon. Robinson admonished.

On his part, the Managing Director of Blue Boulevard, Mr. Peter Osunde explained that so far, 640 shops for cluster one are all sold out with occupancy rate of about 20 percent

He said: “When things were rosy we sell a shop for N5 million per square meter but today in order to keep the venture going, we sell a shop at 250,00 for 20 years.

“In total we have three clusters of total shops of 2,000. Cluster one all 100 percent finished, occupied and paid for. Cluster 2 has 860 shops of which 430 are finished and 430 are 70 percent completion.

“Where we stopped was where we were invaded and made to stop, while cluster 3 is 500 shops with 50% done,” he noted.

Also speaking, the Managing Director Nigerian Air Force Property, Air Vice Marshal Bagari however said the clusters did not represent completion.

He said at the point of agreement the completion of the project is the point it is tentative.

“We didn’t expect that anyone renting this place will rent a carcass in order to complete it will all facilities in place,” Air Vice-Marshal Bagari explained.

In her intervention, Hon. Boma Goodhead (PDP-Rivers) who sought to know if NAF properties had sent a representative to monitor the construction, frowned against the failure of NAF management to deploy its officials while the construction was ongoing.

Speaking on the essence of the oversight, Hon. Robinson said: “I can assure you that over visit will put an end to this crisis and I want to re-emphasise that we are here in the interest of Nigerians. We will come to a table and make everybody is happy.

“We are hereby the special grace of God, so let us take good advantage from the opportunity that God has placed before us, if we take a very hard line we will not achieve our aim.

“We have visited the site and we will brief the committee when we get back to Abuja. The joint committee will do justice to it when we get to Abuja,” Hon. Robinson assured.

Speaking further, Mr. Peter Osunde noted that the ongoing project was halted following the invasion of the Military in March 2017.

He also decried the distortion of agreement one in the contract which gave 32 hectares of land documented, signed and later went into agreement 2 with 6 hectares of land, adding that the work currently on ground has only captured three hectares as against the agreement reached.

”We had worked agreement one till 2015 and led to agreement two. The first agreement was for 20,000 shops.

”All investment are receipted and we have invested over N11 billion to date. Our contract is meant to enjoy the contract for 20 years, so what is the value of our N11 billion investment if the money was put in the bank.

“We are demanding that the sum of N75 billion be paid and NAF property is yet to reach us.

“We demolished the site and got rid of about a 100,000 Nigerians and settled them,” he explained.

Mr Osunde said the sum of N11.2 has been spent since 2009 to September 30th 2020. The bank loan comes in a quarter and we are cutting off in September,” Mr. Osunde urged.

While noting that NAF property had written to the Company in October 2017 to negotiate for an out of court settlement, Mr. Osunde, however, stressed that NAF Properties failed to “do the needful and took us on a merry go round. Meanwhile, a N3 billion loan taken from the bank continued to increase.

“Because of their unwillingness to pay, it costing the Federal Government and they have continued to push the evil days forward at a huge cost everybody,” Mr. Osunde informed the joint Committee.

In his brief remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Air Force, Hon. Shehu Koko assured all the parties that justice will be done when the report is laid on the floor of the House.

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