Nigeria’s Agric Research Council Boss Mired In Multimillion Naira Contract Fraud
The Acting Executive Secretary of the prestigious Nigeria’s Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Professor Garba Hamidu Sharubutu, has serially violated procurement laws and abused his office by awarding multimillion naira contracts to his companies, investigations through analysis of official documents, have revealed.
The controversial contracts were awarded by Mr Sharubutu at the Agric Research Council, Abuja and the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology (FCAH & PT), Vom in Plateau state where he served as provost for five years.
Analysis of official documents revealed that Prof Sharubutu awarded contracts worth over N150 million to C.A.H Consultancy Ltd – a company he personally registered and owned, and another N115 million contracts to another company he owns through proxies, DVC-Multi Ventures Ltd.
The above contracts didn’t include other series of multimillion naira supplies executed by DVC-Multi Ventures Ltd, the same company appointed as an agent of C.A.H Consultancy Ltd.
Sharubutu while at Vom as provost awarded DVC -Multi Ventures Ltd the contracts for the purchase of a landed property, five Fords SUVs, five 406 Peugeot sedans, a tipper truck, an ambulance, among others.
Insiders told this medium that Sharubutu’s alleged fraudulent activities are capable of sabotaging the agricultural revolution being spearheaded by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The animal health college in Vom was established to undertake educational and research development in agriculture and agric-related production technology in Nigeria; while ARCN is the regulatory council for all research institutes in Nigeria towards achieving food security.
How The Fraud Was Perfected
Professor Sharubutu was the Provost of the FCAH & PT Vom from December 2013 to September 2019 before his current appointment as ARCN acting ES.
Checks by this newspaper at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) revealed that Sharubutu registered this company C.A.H Consultancy Ltd on December 29, 2015, exactly two years after his resumption as provost of the animal health college in Vom.
The CAC official search report, dated February 26, 2020, disclosed that the company with a registration number 1307179, has a share capital of N1 million. The company has three shareholders and three directors and a secretary.
Professor Sharubutu, according to the CAC official document, is listed as the biggest shareholder and director with a share capital of N400,000. Other shareholders are Mr Sunday A. Olawuyi, and Alhaji Muhammed Ladan Isa- with N300,000 share capital respectively. The duo are also the two remaining directors of the company.
On the other hand, on June 4, 2019, Prof Sharubutu’s company, C.A.H. Consultancy appointed DVC-Multi Ventures as an “agent” to procure a property in Vom for the college. Subsequently, C.A.H Consultancy continued to award sub-contracts to the company on behalf of the college totaling millions of naira, according to official documents reviewed by this newspaper.
The Fraudulent Contracts At Vom
In December 2017, Sharubutu awarded to his company, C.A.H. Consultancy Ltd, a contract for Capacity development for community based meat and butcher inspectors at Yamalti-Deba, Gombe state at the cost of N25 million.
In October 2018, he awarded another contract to his company for the provision of grants for fish farming in Langa-Langa in Nasarawa state at the cost of N2.5 million.
And just before he left the college in January 2019, the provost awarded another contract to the same company for the rehabilitation of the college library and laboratory at the cost of N24 million.
Also, the provost also awarded contracts to DVC- Multi Ventures, the other company he owns through proxy. In November 2018, Sharubutu awarded DVC-Multi Ventures a N49.9 million contract for the provision of film grants for film production to youths in Okrika and Ogu-Bolo LGAs in Rivers state.
On the same date, the Provost awarded the company another contract for “provision of film grant for film production“ to youths in Khama/Gokana federal constituency in Rivers state at the cost of N49.9 million.
Similarly, in January 2019, Sharubutu awarded DVC-Multi Ventures contract for the procurement and supply of fertilizer and other empowerment materials for farmers in Lere federal constituency in Kaduna state at the cost of N15 million.
On June 4, 2019, the Provost awarded the company a contract for the purchase of an 18-seater bus, a veterinary ambulance and a tipper truck without stating the contract amount.
The following day June 5, 2019, the provost again awarded another contract to the same company for the purchase of five units of Fords Galaxy vehicles and five units of 406 Peugeot sedans for the college. Like the previous purchases, no contract amount was mentioned.
On December 18, 2018, Sharubutu using his company C.A.H Consultancy appointed DVC-Multi Ventures Ltd as the “sole agent” for the purchase of a property for the college.
The Sleaze Continues At ARCN
The abuse of office, conflict of interest and violation of procurement laws didn’t stop at Vom, rather it continued at the ARCN Abuja where Professor Sharubutu was appointed as acting executive secretary.
For instance, on December 3, 2019, just some few months after his resumption at ARCN, Sharubutu awarded two contracts worth N49.5 million each to his company C.A.H Consultancy Ltd. The contracts were for training of women and youth in agriculture at Ahoada Rivers state, and another one for grants for women and youth in livestock farming at Ahoada Rivers state at N49.5 million each.
To perfect this apparent abuse of office, one of the accomplices of Sharubutu who is also a shareholder and director in the company, Alhaji Ladan Isa, deposed to an affidavit in October 30, 2019 at the High Court of Plateau State, to the effect that he is the managing director of the company and that there was no staff of the ARCN who is a shareholder of C.A.H Consultancy Ltd.
Isa deliberately lied on oath knowing fully that Sharubutu, as evidenced by the CAC official search report of the company, exposed Sharubutu as as a director and biggest shareholder of the company.
ICPC Should Probe Sharubutu – Lawyer
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related offenses Commission (ICPC) should probe Professor Sharubutu for the gross violations of the procurement laws and a aide of office as well as investigate whether the contracts were truly executed, a legal practitioner said.
Barrister Ody Ajike of Dolce Marinas Solicitors, Abuja told this newspaper that they have petitioned the ICPC urging it to probe the all the contracts awarded by Sharubutu at Vom and ARCN.
The lawyer is also asking ICPC to investigate the two companies used in the fraudulent contracts, determine if the contracts were truly executed or not, and punish whoever is found guilty after thorough investigation by the anti-graft agency.
Barrister Ajike also added that similar petition was sent to Code of Conduct Bureau seeking the Bureau to investigate serial violations and breach of conduct for public officers, and the bureau has since swung into action.
In a letter written by the Bureau’s director of Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring, Gwimi S. P to the acting Ex. Sec, dated February 28, 2020, the bureau , seeks explanations of some weighty allegations bordering on appointments of some staffs, detailed information of the personnel who benefitted from the fraudulent trainings; detailed information of six (6) vehicles allocated to the minister and his aides, detailed information of names of companies and contracts awards, etc.
In spite of these weighty allegations, a source at the Ministry of Agriculture who craved anonymity and confided to this newspaper said the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Nanono, has submitted the name of Prof. Sharubutu to the President recommending him as the substantive ES of ARCN.
He added, that “Doing so will no doubt lend credence to the claim that the fight against corruption — one of the Cardinal pillars of this administration – is, but questionable.”
Efforts to reach him by placing numerous calls on his MTN line 08036. . . . 51 are not answered, and text messages sent to him through the same number were not responded.