Planned concession of Ajaokuta Steel, Itakpe Iron Ore Companies, group urges EFCC, ICPC others to ensure immediate reversal

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A non governmental organization, Kogi Heritage Protection Advocacy has called on the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to, as a matter of urgency, intervene to ensure immediate reversal of the process in the interest of the present and future generations yet unborn.

The group also urged the leadership of the National Assembly, concerned Civil Society Organizations to also intervene on the matter.

The spoke person of the group, Engr. Edward Jatto disclosed this on Monday during a press conference at the premises of JATTO FM to address the situation.

Engr. Jatto a media practitioner said Nigerians woke up to be shocked on 21st April, 2023, that the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development put up an international and local advertisement on the concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company and Itakpe Iron Ore Company.

According to him, the advert gave only 20 days threshold for local and international interested companies to respond with detailed offers (not just expression of interest).

The statement read as follows, “We note with dismay, that the Federal Government had commenced the concession process for the two companies with an advertisement in some national dailies.

“We hereby fault the Federal Government concession plan of Ajaokuta Steel Company and Itakpe Iron Ore Company without recourse to the National Assembly and the host communities, which will not reflect genuine and transparent participation of all interest groups for equity, fairness and justice to Nigerians.

“It is very unrealistic for the 20 days threshold given for response to the adverts and grossly inadequate for any serious pre-bidding preparations is clearly at variance and in breach of infrastructure concession regulatory commission (ICRC) that specifies six weeks for tender advert and responses

“In other words, the 20 days response cannot realistically bid for the steel plant nor will their bids reflect in any meaningful way, the realities of a gigantic steel complex like the Ajaokuta Steel Company and Itakpe Iron

“The move by the Federal Government as represented by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development calls for national concern, and we are worried because of its potential adverse effect on the economy of the nation and the wellbeing of the host communities as it will subject the people to an untold hardship.

“We are particularly worried because the concessioning process of national assets such as National Iron Ore Company Limited, Itakpe and Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited has not been subjected to thorough legislative processes and contributions from major stakeholders such as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Manufacturers of Association of Nigeria (MAN) and even the host communities, among others.

“We are also worried and suspicious of underhand dealings that the present federal government, under President Muhammadu Buhari is rushing the concessioning process when it is about to handover leadership to a newly democratically elected government of President-Elect, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a few weeks time.

“On this note, we commend a Division of the High Court of Justice of Kogi State sitting in Lokoja, the state capital, which has restrained the Federal Government from its planned concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) at Itakpe.

“This was supported by an injunction seeking restraint against, “carrying out any of the itemized functions or activities as contained in their publication published in the Daily Trust of Friday, 21st April, 2023”, including the virtual pre-qualification for conference or interview slated for May 4, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

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