The Senate Finance Committee headed by Lagos-West Senator, Olamilekan Adeola, has set up a committee to investigate the Nigerian iron ore mining company, Itake, Kogi State, for non-compliance and mismanagement of funds.
According to the commission, the company has been receiving funds from the federal government since 2008, but has not produced any iron or steel and generated no revenue despite receiving annual fees.
The resolution to investigate the organization was tabled by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, following a motion passed by members of the Senate Finance Committee on Day 3 of Thursday’s interactive session with MDAs.
The panel would be chaired by Sani Musa, and would include Opeyemi Bamidele, James Manager, Michael Nnachi and Sadik Suleiman.
The committee must examine the organization’s budget, consisting of recurring capital and overheads from 2008 to present, and is expected to submit its report within two weeks.
Earlier, the committee chair said the agency was a major source of waste of public money, following its moribund character since 2008.
He said the agency had been inactive for 14 years, despite the allocation of funds for capital, fixed costs and overheads.
Adeola said N1.8bn was released as an equity fund, while N2.5 billion of the N3.45b approved budget was released cumulatively to the organization in July 2022.
Adeola said it was worrying that a capital, recurring and overhead fund has been released to the agency since 2004 with no results showing.
He said there was no reason for the government to continue funding an agency that has been inactive since 2008.
“The organization has been abandoned. Who do you pay your salary to? Which project did you carry out?” Adeola asked rhetorically.
Bamidele said: “This is a completely frightening situation and we will fund our budget by borrowing. And we have an agency that is dedicated to developing our steel sector and they haven’t done anything since 2008.”
Also, Senator Jubril Isah accused the agency’s management of leaving its mandate to some alleged social responsibility outside the mandate.
He urged management to refrain from further construction projects outside his mandate and to face iron and steel production and other projects assigned to the organization.
In response, NIOMCO’s sole administrator, Mr. Augustus NKechika, said the agency was mandated to cease operations since 2008, following the organization’s planned concession, which has led to lawsuits.
However, he revealed that the federal government has made efforts to resolve the matter.
He also revealed that the organization has 700 employees on its payroll and said that IPPIS was responsible for paying the salaries of the staff.