There seems to be no end in sight to the infamous incidents of ill-conceived contracts which ultimately cost Nigeria dearly. Even as the dust raised by the notorious oil and gas deal with a foreign company which led to the award of billions of dollars to that firm at Nigeria’s expense by a British court recently is yet to settle, another less-than-edifying contract mess has started to unravel.
At the centre of the latest parasitic deal is IPTELCOM Network Limited on the one hand and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on the other.
Back in 2014, the then Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr David Shikfu Parradang, sealed a contentious contract with IPTELCOM for the company to scan all passport documents and archive them. The six-year deal soon set tongues wagging principally because the personnel of Nigeria Immigration Service can easily perform this sensitive but otherwise routine task.
It was authoritatively learnt that, in terms of expertise and the equipment at their disposal, the IPTELCOM could not hold a candle to Nigeria Immigration Service. Yet, for reasons best known to the then NIS leadership, a deal described by knowledgeable insiders as ‘’nothing short of a sweetheart package’’ was shovelled into IPTELCOM’s lap ‘’for the electronic management of the data being generated by NIS in the process of providing international passports.”
In specific terms, IPTELCOM was mandated to, among others, render the following services to NIS: Install electronic data management solution (EDMS) in the passport issuing officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service for the electronic management of data and documentation emanating from issuing offices; Provide back-up facilities and storage procedures for the data and take reasonable care to safeguard and prevent any loss, damage or theft of data and records; Provide training, guidance and instructions for the NIS staff mandated to handle the project; Ensure that the scope of work for the project is undertaken in a serious and professional manner; Documentation of data generated from the issuance of international passports by NIS at its headquarters and other issuing centres; and Setting up of servers, scanners, desktop computers and storage facilities in each international passport issuing offices including the NIS headquarters.
The contract agreement entails that payment N200 (Two Hundred Naira) shall be made by Nigeria Immigration Service to IPTELCOM per passport as a unit cost for documentation of each passport data throughout the duration of the agreement.
This medium exclusively learnt that aside from the questions raised over the essence of giving out a job that ought to have been handled in-house by the officials of Nigeria Immigration Service, there is the worrisome issue of having applicants’ files scanned into a database at all passport offices that are manned by fully-trained personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service, meaning that IPTELCOM’s only input is to provide parts of the responsibilities of Iris Smart Technologies Limited, a company engaged by the Federal Ministry of Interior for the production of international passports.
This means that in reality, IPTELCOM purported work is being done by the personnel of Nigeria Immigration Service and IRIS Smart Technologies Limited. Yet, the company is being paid a huge amount of money for doing virtually nothing. In four years, IPTELCOM was paid N524,674,315.02 (Five Hundred and Twenty-Four Million, Six Hundred and Seventy-Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifteen Naira, Two Kobo). The breakdown is as follows: In 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, the company was paid N135,990,075 (One Hundred and Thirty-Five Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety Thousand Seventy-Five Naira), N82,401,480.02 (Eighty-Two Million, Four Hundred and One Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty Naira, Two Kobo), N153,141,330.00 (One Hundred and Fifty-Three Million, One Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty Naira) and N153,141,330.00 (One Hundred and Fifty-Three Million, One Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty Naira), respectively.
Little wonder, some of the staff of the Nigeria Immigration Service cried fowl, even as they urged the federal government to beam its searchlight on the IPTELCOM contract to bring to book anyone found wanting in this elephant-scale rip-off involving millions of Naira, aside from the potential national security risks.
According to them, there are convincing reasons to believe that the IPTELCOM at the centre of this contract mess is linked to at least two top former management staff of the Nigeria Immigration Service.Former Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr David Shikfu Parradang, did not respond to enquiries on the matter.
Efforts to get the Chief Executive Officer of INTELCOM Mr Joshua Mukan and other staff of the company for comments on the issue were unsucessfull as at press time.