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April 14, 2024
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Ajaokuta Steel Mill

Group supports bid to probe Ajaokuta Steel Company

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By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Northern Ethnic Group Assembly (NEYGA), an NGO, has supported the move by the Senate to probe the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC), over allegations bordering on corruption.

Its spokesman, Mr Ibrahim Dan-Musa, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said the petition to the Senate by some traditional rulers kicking against the probe bid did not represent the interest of Kogi.

Dan-Musa recalled that Sen. Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan (PDP/Kogi Central), recently moved a motion urging the Senate to investigate alleged corruption and inefficiency at ASC and National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe.

He quoted the lawmaker as seeking an investigation into the 496 million dollars allegedly paid to a supposed handler of the moribund outfit, by the Federal Government in September 2022, reportedly to ward off contractual disputes.

According to Dan-Musa, the petition to stop the probe was jointly signed by five traditional rulers in the central senatorial district.

According to him, the chiefs accused the lawmaker of acting in isolation and without the input of critical stakeholders in the senatorial district.

They also claimed that the Senator’s motion was an “unwarranted public outcry”.

Dan-Musa said the traditional rulers contended that taking fundamental decisions without consultations with them would amount to burning the bridge of democratic principles.

Reacting to the petition, the NEYGA’s spokesman said that the traditional rulers were not empowered to decide on issues that concerned the state and Nigeria as a whole.

According to Dan-Musa, ASC belongs to all Nigerians.

“No one should stand in the way of truth. No one should issue petitions when we want to get to the truth as to why these critical projects are not working and serving their purpose

“If there have been misdeeds, we need to know. That should not hurt anyone.

“Instead of going against the motions raised by Sen. Natasha, I expect every Nigerian to join hands with her.

“Northern Nigeria has decided to stand up. We shall no longer be seen as a lazy region regarding the development of its resources.

“The northern region is disappointed by the letter emanating from traditional rulers in Kogi because the fact that the plant is located in the state does not give Kogi absolute claim to it.

“The letter from Kogi State traditional rulers does not represent the interests of the north and the entire northern senators are encouraged to ensure adequate probe of the whereabouts of the money.

“We also call on the Minister of Steel, Alhaji Shiabu Audu, to continue with his quest to resuscitate the plant. We urge him to constitute an adequate management team.

“Since the company is not contributing to national development, there is the need for a proper management team to ensure accountability and corporate efficiency.

“The demand for the whereabouts of  monies released in respect of ASC is legitimate.

“Where was the money paid to? who are the beneficiaries? The probe and a competent governing board will reassure investors that the management is serious,” he said.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Taiye Agbaje and Ephraims Sheyin

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