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Thursday, July 25, 2024

In Niger, communities suffer as multi-billion naira Auna Dam project remains uncompleted despite 38 years of investments

In Niger State, the over 20 communities around Auna River have had their hopes for fresh water, electricity supply and dry season farming dashed for about 38 years after they gave up their lands, when government said it wanted to build a dam around the River. ABUBAKAR ABDULRASHEED visited the communities and uncovered some shocking revelations

The abundant water flow from the colossal Kontagora-Matandi River surges into Auna community, occupying a vast portion of the landscape. This is why it was named Auna River, after the community. Located in Magama Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State, the river turns the scorching heat into a refreshing relief for whoever runs to it for relaxation.

Auna River has always been a source of socio-economic blessings for the over twenty farming communities around it, including Auna, a predominant community of farmers and fishers.

However, in a stark twist of fate, the faces of inhabitants of the communities around the river tell a million stories of tragedies, as government is yet to get value for the billions invested in the multipurpose dam project on the river and has, thus, not met the expectations of residents.

The hope of having running water in their homes first arose thirty-eight years ago when the federal government conceived damming the Auna River to facilitate potable water supply, irrigation, and hydropower to aid effective water and electrify supply to the communities. But that hope was dashed as they still lack water, despite the government having invested billions on the project for over three decades.

Prior to the project, the immediate communities relied on the Auna River for their drinking water and also for dry-season farming, but the project took over the land reduced the quality of the water for their consumption, and forced them to abandon dry-season farming.

On a Saturday in June, when this reporter visited the Auna Dam project, the 8-kilometre road component of the project was smooth but dusty. Inhabitants were seen trekking from Auna River with jerry cans filled with water held above their heads. Meanwhile, farmers were also returning from their farms but in fewer numbers, compared to when the area was notable for farming. That was before they were displaced by the dam project.

The reporter arrived at a wide 340-million cubic meter reservoir compounded by 2,252 meters earth embankment dam crest of 32 meters in height, which is the Auna Dam project that holds many promises of enhancing the socio-economic activities of the country, but the ambitious project still struggles to cone to life down despite multi-billion naira funding.

A stressful climb to the pinnacle of the dam embankment showed devastated agricultural fields that had been vacated by inhabitants and farmers due to the project. On descending from the height, the reporter sighted a large project building bearing S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited, which was found locked with machinery abandoned.

Before the project came, when Umar Hassan, now 56 and a father-of-five, was still young, he maintained a daily routine of a 30-minute trek with his peers to the Auna River to fetch water. Not only them, other children from surrounding villages also gathered every morning for the same task. He said that it was a chore they took turns with their parents, who went to the river in the evening to fetch water.

Mr Hassan explaining that they always go to Auna River to fetch water
Photo Credit/ Abubakar Abdulrasheed

“We were still young when they started the project in 1980s. Before that time, my friends and I and other children in other villages always go to the river to fetch water. If we go in the morning, our parents will go in the evening,” Hassan said.

However, the chore remains what he passed down to other generations, as his children take up the daily routine of searching for water in the morning, while he does the same in the evening.

“Up till now, I still go there to fetch water with my motorcycle. It is my two older children that will go in the morning because I will be at the farm by then. That is how we have been sharing the responsibility of collecting water for our family,” Hassan added.

Despite promises to bring the dam project to its peak target to mitigate the water hardship in the area, it has faced multiple abandonments, cost overruns, and extended timelines. But what could account for the setbacks for the project for which the government had released over N20 billion in thirty-eight years?

The Genesis

Having identified the potential of transforming the ancient Auna River into a multipurpose development that will offer various benefits such as potable water system, irrigation, technology cultivation methods, and hydropower, the federal government earmarked funds for damming the river.

A document obtained from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), a government financial management institution that promotes prudent and transparent fiscal management in Nigeria, revealed the history and financial expenditure of the project following its physical verification on the project.

A contract to dam the river was first awarded in 1985 by the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority (UNRBDA) to S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited at the cost of N27,080,836 during the first tenure of former Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, as military Head of State.

However, the amount could not achieve any substantial work on the project and that accounted for its abandonment until 2007 when the contract was reviewed upward to N11.3 billion with a 24-month completion period. Yet, the project could not achieve any key service for which it was funded.

Before the mobilization, after the 2007 contract review, the consultant for the project, Messrs. TAHAL Consulting Engineers Limited, was re-ordered in association with the Water and Dam Services Company (WADSCO) to revisit the project and review the earlier designs and works done, and, as a result, bring about a new design and detailed construction drawings.

The revisitation was due to the non-availability of project design reports, adequate drawings, and detailed geotechnical and geophysical studies of the area before the project commencement, – as they were identified as major issues for the project being completed.

S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited’s project office and accommodation under lock with machines and materials abandoned
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

Following the completion of the new designs by TAHAL and WADSCO, the contractor submitted a Revised Estimate Total Cost (RETC 1) amounting to N28.92 billion due to changes in designs and the original estimate, but the amount was scaled down and approved at N18.5 billion as the new contract sum.

However, the new cost could only sustain the work up to 2010, when the project was totally abandoned and the hope to complete it dimmed, as no action was taken after the contractor submitted another Revised Estimate Total Cost (RETC II) of N42.84 billion to bring the project to completion.

Once more, in 2017, the high hope to finally complete the project was revived when the former Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, assumed office and made commitments to complete high and medium priority projects in the ministry before 2020.

The Auna Dam project was ranked as top priority for completion. At the time, the hydropower feature was excluded from the design while the irrigation component was proposed for extension to “100,000 hectares” to boost agricultural activities in the country.

The RECT II submitted by the contractor was then approved at N40.2 billion as the new contract sum by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) during the council’s meeting in November 2017. This was the second time Buhari’s administration had hoped to bring the project to completion. However, it is not clear why the ministry keeps approving the upward reviews of the project cost despite eliminating some features like hydropower, as the ministry failed to respond to enquiries by Ripples Nigeria.

“As part of our efforts to complete ongoing projects, which were hiked over time, we presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) towards resuscitating and completing the Kontagora/Auna dam and Irrigation project in Niger state,” Adamu said while briefing State House Correspondents after the FEC meeting that got the Auna Dam project reapproved in 2017.

“You could recall that we had a technical audit at the beginning of last year [2016] of all the ongoing projects in the ministry and this project (Auna Dam) was ranked as among the top priority projects. It had attained 61 percent progress before it was abandoned in 2010. This is the project that was initiated in 1985,” Adamu stated.

Contrary to this, the FRC’s document revealed that the project only attained 52 percent against 61 percent claimed by Adamu and as recorded by the contractor before his demobilisation in 2010.

The approval to complete the project prompted for the extension of consultant services on the project by three years, which was the completion period of the new award.

“In November 2017, the Federal Executive Council approved another Revised Estimate Total Cost (RETC II) to the present contract sum of N40,273,030,502.88 with a completion/extension period of 36 months. Furthermore, in March, 2018, the contractor remobilized to the site after RETC II approval and commenced work on the rehabilitation of the office and accommodation buildings, access road to site and reconditioning of the Dam embankment,” a FRC’s document read.

When the contractor was remobilised to the site to complete the project in 2018, the heavy moving of machinery, equipment, and the rehabilitation of the project office and accommodation stirred up excitement within the communities that the long-awaited hope to complete the project had finally come.

First row–second row; the reservoir, spillway, intake lain pipe, and dam embankment
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

However, only the rehabilitations, including the re-grading of the access road to the dam site and reconditioning of the dam and its embankment with spillways and intake pipes were achieved, leaving the project to remain a mirage.

Overall, as of 2019, over N20 billion was paid to the contractor following his submission of forty-two claims in the interim certificate, according the FRC document.

“…The Contractor has so far (as at 2019) submitted Forty-Two (42) claims in certificate No. 1–42 with a cumutative consolidated amount of N21,590,706,166.14 and has received a total amount of #20,269,940,492.06, and thus leaving an outstanding payment of #1,320,765,673.46”, the document revealed.

In July 21, 2023, a Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, request was sent to the Ministry of Water Resources. The request, which was addressed to the minister asking for detailed information about the project, including contract description and value, budgetary provision, as well as updated amount released to the contactor, and remarks on the project, was acknowledged but elicited no further action despite follow-up reminders dated 7th September and 20th October.

Losing lives, properties to ‘no success’

During this reporter’s visit in June, he spoke to Garba Taji, a 61-year-old farmer and resident of Molmo Village, who was sitting under one of the straggling trees near Auna River and catching his breath after a strenuous day of farm work. The tree shield, he said, is his regular resting spot every time he goes to the farm before returning home. Attached to his resting is a misery that makes him shed a tear every time alone.

Ostensibly, the stress of regular farm work makes him appear older than his age. Besides, the enduring sorrow stemming from the loss of his son, 16 years ago at the Auna Dam project site continues to weigh heavily on him.

According to him, his son, Mohammed, who was 24 years old when he died, was returning from his farm late in the evening after a heavy downpour that had caused the Auna River to overflow its bank. Tragically, he drowned in the river with his bike at the collapsed bridge that connects his community, which the contractor had failed to repair.

“I lost my 24-year-old son [then] while he was trying to cross the bridge at the dam. Before, our community and other villages had made wooden bridges across some areas of the river that we were using. But the contractor came and removed them, and built a concrete one that wasn’t up to standard because it didn’t take long for the new bridge he constructed to collapse, leaving us with no means of crossing. We struggle to cross the river during the dry season and during the rainy season we only use canoes in crossing the river area,” Taji said as tears rolled down his eyes.

Though Taji had accepted the loss as fate, his mind still grapples with reminiscing. He told this reporter that he got no compensation despite the hardship on his family around the time. But could completing the project compensate him for the loss?

Mr Taji, who lost his son, Muhammed, homes, and farmlands to the dam project
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

Also, a youth in Rafin Gora village, Abdullahi Ibrahim, sustained severe injury at the river when the community replaced the collapsed bridge with pieces of metals.

“I was going to the other village to meet my friends. I accidentally got my left leg caught in a wide-opened iron structure, resulting in an injury around my ankle. I shed a lot of blood before I was taken to the town for treatment.” Ibrahim said

For communities residing around the river area, the onset of the construction of the dam project brought miseries to peasant inhabitants who are majorly farmers.

When the contractor was first mobilised in 1985, all communities around the river were approached to vacate their ancestral homelands for the project. Farmers who had cultivated the area had to give up their farmlands.

The hope that SCC (Nigeria) Limited brought to provide them potable water, irrigation, and the promise to compensate them for giving up their homes and farms made them reluctantly surrender their lands.

However, little or no compensation was paid to the people whose properties were affected by the project. A few of them, it was learnt, received compensation amounts as low as N1,000 – N2,500, while many received nothing.

“The project site was where we had our houses and farms before it started. They came to tell us to relocate and leave our houses and farms. We had relocated for the project two times, and even the last time they came they gave us another notice to relocate from this place again.

“They said the government has already bought all these places to do the project, meanwhile, they just compensated a few people that lost their farms, houses, and trees with small amounts.

“For instance, for those that had around five rooms, they gave them somewhat between N1,000 and N2,000, and in some cases as little as N300 or N600, while some were not even given a Kobo,” said Ibrahim Tanko, assistant Village Head of Molmo.

All residents and landowners of about nine villages, including Molmo, the nearest communities to the project site became inhabitants and tenants in new settlements where this reporter visited them. For many years, they lived with the hope that the project would be completed and they would regain the long-lost potential of the Auna river and recover their earlier livelihoods, with an improvement. However, its abandonment dipped their hope as the site turned into a deserted area.

For Taji, the project had brought multiple tragedies – from losing his son and his previous home, to his big farmland.

“They came, telling us they would do the project that would provide us with clean drinking water and irrigation for farming during the dry season. But as you can see, they left us in hardship without fulfilling any of their promises they made to us,” Taji added.

Yahya Mohammed, a youth resident of Kaso Village, recalls the excitement of his community thirty-eight years ago when they heard that water would soon be running in their homes after the the dam project would have been completed. At that time, his eyes and those of his childhood peers widened with curiosity as they watched machinery being brought into the community to start the construction of the dam. They asked their parents what the machinery was meant for.

Upon hearing that the Auna River which they used to trek to daily to fetch water would be dammed and water would constantly be running right in their houses. Both they and their parents exuded a contagious energy that radiated pure happiness and enthusiasm, coupled with eager anticipation to end the task of fetching water.

Their glee motivated them to visit the workers every day and return home to share their discoveries with their peers who could not go.

However, as Mohammed and his peer grew older, what their parents told them is yet to come true.

“As children then, we were happy when we saw those white men, even our parents were also happy as well. We often go there to play and watch the workers at the site. But see now, we are getting older and nothing has changed. In fact, it has even become worse because we now solely depend on dug wells for water, and the water is not good because many of us often fall sick.” Mohammed bemoaned.

Mohammed’s village and many other communities in the area depend on deep-dug wells which they lament are often short of water and even run dry during dry season. Depending on these wells, residents lament facing various ailments which were attributed to poor water quality for those who sought treatment at health centers.

“Getting water is a big problem for us, particularly during the dry season. At that time, all the wells you see will run dry, and we have to journey to various areas in search of water. Most often, we trek to Auna River because it used to have little water during the dry season”, he lamented.

Rainah Hassan, a resident of Tungan Tsamiyya, is one of the individuals who embarks on journeys to the Auna River to fetch water. The 41-year-old woman said that her community lacks any dug wells, so they must trek long distances to neighboring communities for water or visit Auna River, where they have an area with scratched ground that provides them water.

She added that she always goes to the river with her children to fetch water, but in the morning of the day this reporter visited, she sent her three children to the river while she handled the home chores, but for four hours she waited without seeing their return.

“I am always in fear whenever I don’t go with them, considering the current situation in this country with kidnappings. So when I didn’t see their return after four hours they had gone to the river, I became concerned and went to the river to check on them. Upon arriving there, I found that one of the jerry cans they had taken to fetch water had fallen and broken and they were busy trying to patch it up before returning home.” Mrs Hassan expressed how they trek long distances in search of water.

Scary Data; lack of safe drinking water plagues Nigeria

According to the World Bank’s data in its 2022 Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership, over 70 million Nigerians live without access to clean water. The data climbed against its 2021 report which stated that approximately 60 million citizens were living without access to basic drinking water.

In Niger State, the over twenty communities that ought to have benefited safe drinking water from the Auna Dam project but now depend on stream water and dug wells, make up the 39 percent the state contributed to the 70 million Nigerians with no safe drinking water.

However, UNICEF identified that the lack of access to safe drinking water increased the vulnerability to water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea which leads to the deaths of more than 70,000 people annually.

READ ALSO:INVESTIGATION: Years after, 15km Eleme-Onne end of East-West Road remains death-trap despite billions released

Irrigation, hydropower plans derailed

For optimal utilisation of the potential Auna River, as part of the dam project, the government reckoned to erect the irrigation feature initially covering 11,200 hectares of the project area, but was later reduced to 1,500 hectares during one of the contract reviews, while the hydropower feature had been “excluded from the project,” as revealed by the FRC.

The quest was to provide raw water drawn from the Auna Dam for the irrigation system of farming in the areas to be used by farmers during prolonged dry seasons when most of them are often out of job.

“The project comprises of different components which include:

i. Access road – 8km ii.Earth embankment dam crest length – 2,252m iii.Height of Embankment – 32m iv.Reservoir capacity (storage) – 340MCM v. Spillway Type; Uncontrolled overflow spillway – 60m width vi.Emergency spillway – 300m width vii.Intake/Outlet – 4× 1,400m diameter pipes Viii. Irrigation supply canal -14km length ix. Irrigation area – (initially of 11,200Ha) and now 1,500Ha.”

But in a cruel twist of fate, what they hoped for in the project to nourish their farms turned to misery that left them suffocated.

When farmers heard that the project would provide them irrigation, the news stirred excitement as they hoped it would add value to their farming, little did they know that their hope would stall many ways without coming true.

However, a tour round the project evidently found that no irrigation system component ever existed. As this reporter ventured into the project area, he observed that a few spots at the project site have been turned into small farmlands.

“When they first started we were managing to farm in some areas but the project caused erosion many times that swept all our farmlands. Then they asked us to vacate the land totally.

“They said after they complete the project we will have good water for drinking, fishing, and an irrigation system to farm during the dry season. We were doing the dry season before they started the project but now, we can’t do it again because the land is not even suitable for dry season farming any longer. It has been over 30 years since we stopped the dry-season farming. We always keep part of the profit we make during the little farming we do in the rainy season to sustain ourselves during the dry season.” Mr Magagi said.

Also, Issa Attah, a resident of Auna was once a seasonal and respected farmer in the area as his harvests were always bountiful, but since the project came and affected his farmlands, he has transitioned to being a fisherman which is “not as favourable” for him like farming.

On this reporter’s visit, it was the second time that day that Attah was going to the Auna Dam site to catch fish for sale, but the latter attempt was a failure.

It was in the evening, he cast his net into the river, leaving it for a while with the hope that by the time he drew the net out, it would have caught some fishes, but no fish blessed his net.

Few hours later, upon this reporter’s return, Attah had caught four fishes in addition to the eleven he had caught in the morning; he bemoaned his miserable catch.

“Other fishermen experience the same thing, even some other people had left the business. The reason for the low catches is because the project has affected many areas that we do have good catches.” Attah lamented.

During this reporter’s visit, the Auna River was not at its peak, the large area that residents said shed much water had been occupied by the dam embankment.

Also, excluding the hydropower component from the project burdens the darkness prone communities that had never seen electricity before.

“It is you that is just telling us now that the electricity part has been removed and won’t be done, that means we will continue to suffer in darkness. Can you imagine the sort of life living without electricity all these years? Maybe they came to deceive us that they’ll use the dam to provide us with electricity,” said Yusuf Haruna, a resident of Tunga Washeri.

District Head laments, pleads for project completion

Usman Kibiya, the Emir of Sabon Gari Auna, has a face on the project as he was one the people the S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited met before the construction commenced and engaged with recommending people to work for them as labourers on the site.

Emir of Sabon Gari Auna, Mr Kibiya, bemoaning the hardship of the communities
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed.jpg

However, Kibiya is not pleased with the project’s non completion, as the communities face increasing water hardship and have lost numerous socio-economic activities that the areas once possessed.

He said their struggle to access water is impacting their well-being and hindering various activities, including their children attending school. He also noted that during dry season, all their dug wells dry up, forcing them to travel as far as six kilometers to fetch water.

“I provided them with more than fifteen boys from my village and also many from other villages to work for them. This entire area was surrounded by a river but they began by laying some pipes to channel the water. We were very happy with the project back then.

“But at this point, we need to speak out the truth about our hardships. We are facing serious challenges in all our villages, particularly concerning accessing clean drinking water, which was one of the promises they made to us. We have suffered losses, people have lost their houses, farms, and other things.

“We have more wealthy farmers in many communities because we used to do dry season farming but we are not doing it again because the project has taken over the lands, and up till now we have not seen the success of what we gave up our properties and means of livelihood for,” Mr Kibiya lamented, and bemaoned how they suffered to get water and lost many of their means of livelihood due to the project”.

“If I could remember, during their [S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited] last presence on the site they told me the government did not pay them and so they are going to stop the work, and they left with no hope for when they will come back to complete the project”, he added.

He however, pleaded with the government to expedite the project completion so as to fulfill its long-intended purpose and bring the targeted benefits to them.

Damning S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited, accomplice with government MDAs

Ripples Nigeria found that S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited is owned by a non-Nigerian, Yuval Levy, who has significant control and owns substantial shares in some other companies linked to S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited. Some of the companies are registered in Nigeria while two are in safe havens.

SCC managing director, Levy, during an event in Nigeria

Levy, is an influential business personality in Nigeria and a major player in the oil and gas and construction industries. He was conferred with the national honor of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), one of Nigeria’s highest national honors, by the Nigerian former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2014. His company’s (S.C.C Nigeria Limited) a multi-million dollar ultra-modern steel pipe manufacturing mill was commissioned by the immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015.

Levy, and his three associates, Patrick Dele Cole, Samuel Umoh, and Ogaji Walter have been managing SCC Nigeria Limited as directors, as well as other companies associated with and having the same office addresses as SCC, where they also hold directorship.

For S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited, the company was registered in Lagos as a private limited company by shares and as a purchase and sewage management company. The company which now has its office at Plot 741, Cadastral Zone B4, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Abuja, has a total company share of 10,000,000 units of which Levy owns 10%, while 25% is owned by Cornwood Investment Nigeria Limited, another company in which Levy owns 99.9% shares.

Records obtained by Ripples Nigeria from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) revealed that the four associates including Levy were appointed into S.C.C Nigeria Limited in October, 2019 although the company was registered in 1976.

Levy’s shares and other shareholders in S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

Two other shareholders in S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited are Malangantus Limited, a company registered in Bahamas, which owns 65% shares, and C.F.S Consulting and Fin services Limited with 0.4% shares. Both companies are registered in safe havens.

It was impossible to get registration information on these companies because of the secrecy around businesses in safe havens, so it could not be determined how or if they are connected to Levy. But the mere fact that SCC Nigeria Limited is significantly owned by a company registered in a safe haven also raised some questions.

As the name implies, in business or investment terms a safe haven is a place where investments are believed to be secure, usually because of lesser taxes and dues. But it also connotes secrecy, as several international investigations, such as the Panama and pandora Papers have shown that it is a place where businessmen hide their assets and funds, away from the scrutiny of the authorities.

For Cornwood Investment Nigeria Limited, it was registered in October, 2018 in Imo State as a sales company with a total of 1,000,000 shares value. All the existing directors for the company were removed on 24 October, 2022 while Levy and his associates (except Cole who is secretary) were appointed as directors on the same date.

Levy and Samuel are the only shareholders in Cornwood with Levy being the only person with significant control and having 99.9% shares while Samuel owns just 0.1% shares in the company.

A collage grid showing the directors of S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

Interestingly, Levy provided false information to the CAC about Cornwood for whether he owns at least 5% shares in any other company as he owns 10% in S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited, which was registered far before Cornwood.

Besides Malangantus Limited, Cornwood, and C.F.S Limited, Levy and his partners, Dele Cole, Umoh, and Walter are also linked to two other companies, E.L.I Security Company Limited and Stacrest Integrated Farms Limited, incorporated in 2014 and 2016 respectively where they are directors as well as shareholders.

Shareholders in cornwood Investment Nigeria Limited with each of their shares
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

Back to the project site, the only known face for S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited left on the site for watching over the project, declined to speak to the reporter nor disclose his name. He said a request has to be made to his head office in Abuja through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources before he could respond to any inquiries.

He however did say, he believes the place has been shut down following non release of funds by the government.

“The Ministry of Water Resources has to give you approval, whereby sending a copy to our head office, and our head office will send a memo to us while you also come with your own.

“Because for now, we are not operating, this place [has] been closed down, only few people are left, so I’m the one in charge. So nobody, we’re not doing anything, no job is going on, no payment from the federal government”, the S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited’s personnel on ground said.

It was found that S.C.C (Nigeria) Limited has its office at Plot 471, Cadastral Zone B4, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Jabi, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.

When a phone call was made to its office on enquiries about the project, the receiver who in a subsequent call spoke through the company’s PRO, said the information sought by Ripples Nigeria can not be let out by the company, adding, that the request should be redirected to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.

“S.C.C is just a contractor with that Ministry, and S.C.C which is handling the project can not just on his own begin to give you information regarding it. Go to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and get it”, the receiver who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the PRO said.

“What if we are giving you the information and it is not what the Federal Ministry of Water Resources that gave us the job have [with them]?”

When the reporter questioned why the ministry and S.C.C would have contradictory accounts on the project, he declined to answer.

“What I’m letting you know is from the response of the Public Relation Officer, kindly go to the ministry and get your answer.

“You directed the letter to the wrong place (S.C.C Nigeria Limited), there is no need to get an answer from us or reply. You’re supposed to get the information you need from the ministry not from SCC,” he insisted.

FOIA requests and reminder to SCC, and its response
Photo Credit: Abubakar Abdulrasheed

However, a FOI request addressed to its Managing Director and delivered to the address on July 21, 2023, was officially acknowledged but not responded to. A reminder was sent September 11, and on October 9, the company wrote and claimed that it was not obliged to provide any information on a contract.

It stated in its response that, “S.C.C. Nigeria Limited is only the contractor on the project employed by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the direct supervision of the Federal ministry of Water resources and thus we are not at liberty to divulge any information to you”.

It advised that “any information sought on the said project should be channeled to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.”

However, the Freedom of Information Act 2011 mandates private

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