14 April 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — An investigation committee was expected to have commenced probe Thursday (yesterday) on Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL, following the March 1 exposé made at the House of Representatives debate on the steel sector.
SweetcrudeReports gathered that the investigation committee, set up to look into the critical issues raised at the debate, is headed by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and would be holding its first investigative session at the National Assembly, Abuja.
It could not be confirmed last night if the probe has actually commenced.
Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited in Kogi State, Nigeria is the second largest steel plant in Africa and 12th largest in the world.
However, the company has been under lock and key since 1994 after the Russian contractors handling the project abandoned it.
The federal government said it has spent over $8bn on the steel plant since its inception, the bulk which has been largely spent on the salary of workers.
In a recent move, a lawyer, Natasha Akpoti, in a petition read at the House of Representatives in March, had revealed plots by some individuals in Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to fraudulently acquire the steel company for themselves.
In her speech, Akpoti revealed how a Russian company had to abandon the project in 1994 because Nigeria fell short of its contractual agreement by not releasing funds needed for the completion of the steel plant.
She also claimed that Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wrote the Nigerian government on how to modernise and complete the Ajaokuta complex, but key Nigerian actors have been silent on the offer because of their personal interest in the steel company.
She also recalled how Ajaokuta and another the Itakpe Iron Ore Company were concessioned to a private company, Global Infrastructure Holding Limited, which later metamorphosed to Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, GINL.
According to her, GINL had at many times contributed to the decay of the steel company, which is why the steel company remains moribund.
Akpoti also explained how late president Umaru Yar’Adua terminated the concession of Ajaokuta and Itakpe steel company to GINL after a committee was set up to probe the concessioning process and the state of Ajaokuta Steel in 2008.
She also claimed there are several indications that the current Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi and Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello have interest in the steel company.
Natasha disclosed that Fayemi is currently making plans to ensure GINL, again gets control of the steel companies.
In her over 30 minutes speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, the lawyer heavily indicted Fayemi for his role in re-concessioning Ajaokuta to same GINL which a committee set up by late Yar’adua had noted as not fit for the steel company as it lacked the capacity to run the company and also because the terms of concession favours GIHL at the expense of the country.