Reps probe P/Harcourt airport contract, Rivers killings – Punch …

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John Ameh, Abuja

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, resolved to probe the Port Harcourt International Airport remodelling contract.

 The project was among the remodelling contracts for major airports awarded by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.

 On Wednesday, lawmakers observed that despite the “billions of naira” that was released for the project, it remained an abandoned project, seven years on.

 The House, at a session presided over by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, called for the investigation following a motion moved by the Chairman, Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Kingsley Chinda.

 Chinda recalled that the airport benefited from the remodelling contracts just as similar airports did in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Sokoto, Yola, Ilorin, Enugu and Owerri.

 However, he informed the House that while the projects at the other airports were “substantially completed”, that of Port Harcourt was abandoned and “has till date remained under rehabilitation at a slower-than-a-snail’s-pace rate.”

 Chinda’s motion read partly, “The House is aware that the airport is in a very poor state and no concrete work is ongoing at the site as passengers are received in tents.

 “Even the departure hall, which was claimed to have been completed, is full of structural faults with noticeable cracks in the walls, suspended ceilings and leaking roof. Yet, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria collects toll and other very high charges for entry into and overnight parking at the airport.

 “Also aware that budgetary allocations have always been made for modernisation and remodelling as well as airport projects’ maintenance, yet the proper utilisation of such funds falls short of expectations of teeming Nigerians.

 “Concerned that social, economic and commercial activities in Rivers State and indeed the South-South and South-Eastern parts of the country, have been adversely affected as a result of the poor state of the PHIA.

 “Unless steps are taken to ensure resumption of rehabilitation works, the funds already expended would have been wasted and the sum budgeted and advanced for the project could be frittered away, thus adding to the growing number of abandoned projects.”

 Although, lawmakers asked the Federal Government “to urgently cause the resumption of rehabilitation works” at the airport, they mandated the Committees on Aviation/Anti-Corruption/Public Accounts to “investigate the expenditure of all the funds released for the upgrading and maintenance of the airport from 2011 to date.”

 The committees were further directed to find out the “reasons for the abandonment of rehabilitation works at the airport, with a view to ensuring that same is completed.”

 The House also passed another resolution to investigate rising incidents of extrajudicial killings, kidnapping and armed robbery in Rivers State.

 Ten lawmakers from Rivers State, including Chinda, Mrs. Betty Apiafi and Ms Boma Goodhead, brought the issue up under matters of urgent national importance, calling for immediate investigation.

 The members pointedly accused the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police of being behind the incidents, re-echoing a similar allegation made days ago by the state governor, Nyesom Wike.

 Chinda, who led the debate, cited the modus operandi of the SARS operatives as including “outright killing and maiming of people in Rivers State, invading victims’ houses and using Point of Service machines to extort money.”

 Lawmakers endorsed the motion in a unanimous voice vote.

 A third motion passed by the House sought to investigate the alleged importation of Genetically Modified maize into Nigeria.

 The maize, said to be in “seven ship loads”, was allegedly imported by Olam Group last month.

 The House noted that the importation was allowed at a time when European countries were expressing reservations about the safety of genetically modified products.

 Besides, members said the importation was in direct contrast to the government policy to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture.

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