Wednesday, 21 December 2011

BPE Probe: Senate indicts El-Rufai, revokes sale of Transcorp, NICON, Daily Times

Diminutive former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-
Rufai has been indicted by the Nigerian Senate over violation of the Act
establishing the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, where he had served as
the pioneer Director General, leading to lapses in implementation of the
Federal government privatization programme.

El-Rufai and successive helmsmen in the BPE had been enmeshed in serial
allegations of variously sabotaging the privatization programme which recently
provoked an inquiry by the Senate.

El-Rufai was specifically reprimanded for distorting the reporting channel by
seeking approvals directly from former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
instead of conferring with his erstwhile vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who also
doubled as Chairman, National Council on Privatisation, NCP, the body
statutorily vested with authority to vet and endorse BPE brokered deals.

At its sitting on Tuesday, the Senate adopted the recommendations of its
adhoc committee that probed the activities of the BPE and turned in a range
of recommendations which include the removal of Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa as
DG and revocation of the sales of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Daily Times and
NICON Insurance.

The case of Daily Times, according to the Senate was in deference to several
court rulings on the controversial transaction.

It further requested anti-graft agencies to recover all assets of Daily Times
disposed by Folio, and in addition, to launch investigations on the directors of
Folio Communications.
Also the Senate directed the buyers of NICON Insurance to refund with
interest N900 million to the Federal government being money paid by BPE in
February 2007 as contribution for recapitalization with accrued interest.

According to the report, the former Director General of BPE Dr. Julius Bala
would also be investigated by anti graft agencies for giving approval to Folio
Communication Limited for the illegal sale of assets of Daily Times Nigeria
Core investors in the privatization of Transcorp was accused of violating the
transaction agreement to deliver on the following fundamental provisions of the
Share Purchase Agreement/Post Acquisition Plans which include:

Construction of a shopping mall within the hotel grounds; Construction of
short/long stay serviced apartments on the available land within the hotel
premises to cater for corporate and similar clients whose needs may not be
met by the typical hotel service structure; Construction of state of the art
office complex for short stay guests who may have need for office
infrastructure outside their immediate offices and development of an
amusement emporium to add to the hospitality profile of the hotel.

While ruling on the adoption of wide range recommendations of its committee
that conducted the enquiry, Senate President David Mark, said it was now up
to the executive arm of government to facilitate the implementation of the

His words: “It is not the lot of the senate to implement these
recommendations; it is left for the executive to implement the
recommendations. I hope those who have been insinuating that the Senate
has been trying to avoid discussing the report now know what we can do,
nobody forced us to carry out investigation, we did it on our own and nobody
made efforts to stampede us. There was no time the report was withdrawn
because of conflict with the senators, the Senate is one”.

As a mark of the special national interest attached to the report, all the
recommendations of the Ahmad Lawan led Committee were all approved by
the Senators who had held a closed-door meeting before the consideration of
BPE Probe: Senate indicts El-Rufai, revokes sale of
Transcorp, NICON, Daily Times

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