The Federal Government made what appears to be its first major breakaway from dubious state contractors Monday, when it barred 10 companies from doing business in the country, following their alleged corrupt practices.
The measures announced amid last week’s release of the Transparency International Corruption Index report which suggests a worsening corruption trend in the country, dated back the penalties to as far back as the year 2000.
The affected companies are Scientific Energy and Environmental Management System of 23B Ijora Drive, MKO Gardens, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, debarred from June 17, 2013 to June 17, 2015; SNC Lavalin, C/O Aluko Oyebode, 35 Moloney Street, Lagos debarred from May 7, 2013 to April 17, 2023; Sego Ventures, 17B Canery Drive, MKO Gardens, Lagos, debarred from June 3, 2011 to August 1, 2013; Gurpreet Singh Malik, Lagos, permanently debarred since February 11, 2000. Kamal Sharda, Lagos, Sharda Impex (U.K), Lagos, Shereena Agriculture Ltd, Kano, Vikram Deepak Gursahaney, Lagos, has also been permanently debarred from February 11, 2000. Karitex Ltd was permanently debarred from February 24, 2000; and Contransimex Nig Ltd barred from May 30, 2012 to May 29, 2014.
Emeka Ezeh, director-general of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), made this known in Abuja, at a one- day stakeholders’ workshop on the presentation of debarment procedure.
Ezeh said the move was to ensure effective implementation of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
“For the successful implementation of the public procurement Act 2007, the bureau has developed a debarment procedure after other international good practices that currently exist elsewhere across the globe.
“The proposed debarment procedure is one of the mechanisms developed by the bureau, to punish procurement related corrupt activities and inculcate the required discipline in Nigeria’s public procurement system”, he said.
Ezeh said the step would “ultimately improve the way to do business to meet international good practices”. He said the process was not new in the procurement value chain across the globe but had been implemented by other countries, even in Africa.
Ezeh said that the U.S. debarment process was among the oldest and its grounds included anti-trust, tax evasion, false statements and bribery in procurement related activities.
He listed the countries that had established their own systems as Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Bangladesh , Denmark and Senegal, among others.
“In 2007, Nigeria also adopted cross-debarment system in the case of Messrs Lahmeyer International, which was debarred by the World Bank”, he said.
He said the Federal Government, through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation circular No. SGF/CP/I/5.3/VII/814 of January 19, 2007 concurrently debarred Messrs Lahmeyer international in Nigeria.
“Therefore, what the bureau is trying to implement is not new, as it already exists in other climes where the public procurement law has been implemented”, he said.
With this debarment, the 10 companies will not be allowed do business in the country, according to their years of debarment, in addition to other sanctions that may follow.
The ban on the companies was prompted by the report from both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank Group.
Corruption is endemic in the country, cutting across the social strata of the society and ranging from the monumental fuel subsidy scam, to a massive scam uncovered in the pension administration. Senior government officials have also been named in brazen corrupt practices.
Transparency International in its 2012 Corruption Index said Nigeria is highly corrupt, being the 35th most corrupt nation in the world.
A breakdown of the barred companies shows 10 were barred by the World Bank and the remaining three by the Inter-American Development Bank Group.
Ezeh said the key objective of the debarment procurement was to ensure prevention and deterrence.
He advised contractors and service providers who wish to continue doing business with the Federal Government to put in place anti-corruption mechanisms, to avoid debarment.
Ezeh said “if you violate any provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007, if one offers bribe and generally misrepresents facts and lies about his capability, with a view to changing the outcome of the procurement process, one is liable to sanctions”.
He said debarment or sanctions were usually placed on companies doing businesses without recourse to due process, or for encouraging bribery and corruption in procurement processes, which negate the rules, as enshrined in Nigerian Procurement Act of 2007.