How contractor refunded N30.6m double payment by Humanitarian Ministry

Details have emerged of how a long-term Federal Government contractor, James Okwete, refunded the sum of N30,604,651.16 to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs after receiving double payment for a completed contract under former Minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq.

Documents exclusively obtained by our correspondent revealed that the payment was part of a N35 million contract for the “Design and Development of N-Knowledge Training Manuals for N-Hardware Beneficiaries North-Central (Lot B17).”

The contract was awarded to Mr Okwete through his company, Adatech Integrated Services Limited on December 29, 2020, and announced on January 4, 2021, under the N-Power programme of the National Social Investment Programme in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The procurement was signed by the Director of Procurement, Shittu F.O, for Umar-Farouq.

Part of the materials procured were: a manual content development to develop a training manual for the N-Tech Hardware track worth N5,950,000 and the printing of a training manual for N-Knowledge (hardware track) worth a total of N26,608,139.54.

A total of N32,558,139.54 plus Value Added Tax at 7.5 per cent worth N2,441,860.47, making a grand total of N35,000,000.00.

However, in a letter dated April 27, 2021, the National Social Investment Programme, wrote the Managing Director, Adatech Integrated Services Limited, informing him of the wrongful double payment of N30,607,651.16 in respect of the Design and Development of N-Knowledge Training Manuals for N-Hardware Beneficiaries North-Central (Lot B17).

The letter was signed by the Director of Finance and Accounts (NSIP), Adaramoye Joseph, for the Minister.

The document read, “The Managing Director, Adatech Integrated Services Ltd. Suite B, Block C. Commerce Plaza Bhd Old secretariat Area 1. Abuja

“Reference the above subject, please. It was discovered that your company was wrongly paid twice in respect of the above contract to the tune of Thirty million, six hundred and four thousand, six hundred and fifty one Naira, sixteen kobo (N30,604,651.16) only. The amount was double paid into your Bank details below Bank: First Bank of Nigeria plc. Account No: 2021481488

“You should please refund the sum of N30,604,651.16 to Account Name: National Social Investment Programme Remitta- RRR GIFMIS CODE-0544003001, NARRATION- Refund of Payment.”

Responding to the request in a letter dated June 23, 2021, Mr Okwete’s Adatech Integrated Services Ltd, wrote to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, acknowledging receipt of the letter and intention to refund the money.

The document read, “We write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated April 27, 2021, and to reassure you of our intention to refund and correct the transaction error from your end.

“The sum of N30,604,651.16 was actually received into our account in double credit entry through our First Bank account. However, our Director is not in the country at the moment, he is yet to return from his trip. We assure you by this memo that we will arrange for this payment refund as soon as he arrives in the country in no distant time.

Meanwhile, a Remita payment document with serial number 1105-5500-0255, which was exclusively obtained by our correspondent, further revealed that on October 13, 2021, Mr Okwete’s Adatech Integrated Services Ltd, refunded the total sum of N30,604,812.41 to the National Social Investment Programme, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

A copy of the company’s bank statement highlighting the refund transaction was also obtained by Sunday PUNCH.

Confirming the refund in another letter, Adatech Integrated Services, in a letter signed by the company’s Manager, Obi Stanley, noted that it attached the refund confirmation and a copy of the refund evidence.

The document reads, “Director, Finance and Accounts, National Social Investment Programme, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“We write to inform you that we have identified and rectified an error regarding the double payments made by your ministry to our company. We are pleased to inform you that we have processed the refund for the duplicate payment, and the amount has been credited to your account on October 31, 2021.

“We deeply apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused and assure you that it was not our intention to receive duplicate payments. As soon as we discovered the error, we took immediate action to investigate, resolve, and refund the overpayment

“We have attached the following documents for your reference: 1. Award letter with file no: FMHADMSD/PROC/01063/Vol.1/III. 2. Refund Confirmation: A copy of the refund evidence. 3. Bank Statement: A copy of our bank statement highlighting the refund transaction.

“We kindly request a form of confirmation/clarification from the ministry as evidence that the refund has indeed been received. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with your ministry.”

The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has been under probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Crimes Commission for alleged cases of money laundering.

The major public officials that have been indicted by the anti-graft commission include former Minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq, suspended Minister, Beta Edu, and suspended former Coordinator, National Social Investment Programme, Halima Shehu.

While Umar-Farouq is being proven for alleged misappropriation of N37bn, Edu is under probe for alleged N17.5bn fraud, while Shehu is being investigated for alleged laundering of N44bn, all under the same ministry.

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