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ICIR Report Shows How Millions meant for Combating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria end up in Private Pockets

The ICIR investigations show that hundreds of millions of naira released for HIV campaigns, counselling and testing services may have ended in private pockets of contractors and government officials, as companies were specifically registered to siphon funds meant to save the lives of the infected.

BRAZENLY STOLEN MONEY

I October of 2015, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) awarded 38 contracts to 23 firms at the cost of N1.2 billion. Their shared responsibilities were to conduct HIV counselling, testing and demand creation for HIV services in 26 out of Nigeria’s 36 states.

That year, NACA broke its own fiscal record as its capital budget of N1, 930,500,120 was fully released and spent to the last kobo. Three years down the line, The ICIR investigations reveal, the award of contracts for these services were a smokescreen to siphon public funds. No services were meant to be rendered and none were eventually delivered. Yet, monies were released from state coffers and supposedly accounted for.

In the global efforts to rid the world of HIV, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), causative agent, reports say that new HIV infections are not going down in Nigeria and, thus, still poses a public health threat. Advocates continue to argue that prevention and treatment programmes need to be scaled up.

But rather than scale up prevention in the country, The ICIR investigations show the companies NACA awarded contracts are, to a large extent, questionable. In addition, three of these firms made away with N289 million, without executing any traceable HIV counselling and testing services.

Two of the companies – Duxford Integrated Services Limited (DISL) and Carsons Global Services Limited (CGSL) were, according to records scrutinised, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on the same day – May 2, 2014. The third company, Corn Idea Limited (CIL), was registered on November 26 of the same year.

Another striking discovery was that the three companies have common ownership and are located in the same address. Ifeanyi Iyizoba, doubles as a director and majority shareholder in all, while Afunanya Jude Chinweze is the sole secretary of the three companies.

Each of the companies has N1 million share capital. In the breakdown, Iyizoba has N600, 000 shares each in Duxford Integrated Services Limited and Carsons Global Services Limited, while a different person, named Martin Samuel, owns the remaining N400, 000 share capital each.

In the third company, Corn Idea Limited, Ifeanyi Iyizoba is found to be the main shareholder with N900, 000 share capital, while a new name, Ndubuisi Iyizoba, owns just N100, 000 shares in the company.

Also, DISL and CGSL have the same main objective: “to carry on the business of trading of general contracts, sales and distribution of general goods”.

The third company, CIL, has a different objective: “to carry on the business of communication, telecommunication services and software design”.

Thus, none of the three companies that secured contracts from NACA to conduct HIV counselling and testing services in nine states renders any form of health services as their main objectives indicate.

A breakdown of the contracts awarded to the three companies by NACA shows that DISL got N37 million for Kebi, N27 million for Imo, and N29 million for Benue state. CGSL got two contracts at N32 million for Bayelsa and N34 million for Plateau states.

Corn Idea Limited received the highest number of contracts with N27 million for Katsina, N37 million for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), N38 million for Bauchi, and N28 million for Zamfara states.

PROCEDURE VIOLATION


The companies’ address at 169 Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja was a residential apartment now being converted to a plaza. Photo by The ICIR

By the awards of these dubious contracts, NACA did not only violate requirements of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) of 2007, the agency also disregarded its own laid down procedures and processes.

Earlier in July 2015, NACA advertised expressions of interest from competent firms. The requirements were that interested companies should be ones with high knowledge and experience in HIV services. They were asked to apply for the contracts in order to enhance rapid scale-up of HIV services in the communities as well as Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS.

A key factor in NACA’s eligibility criteria was that prospective applicants must have completed at least three successful similar consultancy services.

However, findings by The ICIR show that the three companies never handled any project or service of any kind prior to their getting the HIV counselling and testing contracts from NACA.

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