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Nigeria senate probes airport contract scam

LAGOS, June 25 – A Nigerian parliamentary committee has been hearing how the contracts issued in 2006 to upgrade the country\’s four international airports were inflated to five times their cost price, This Day newspaper reported Wednesday.

Captain Daniel Omale, a technical consultant to the senate committee on aviation, told the committee Tuesday that the actual cost price of the projects would have been around one billion naira (8.5 million dollars).

He said the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the contracts for 6.5 billion naira.

Of the 6.5 billion naira total, 6.4 billion naira was paid upfront to the Austrian company MS AVSATEL handling the project, he said.

Even assuming the contractor made a 100 percent profit on the one billion, that still left 4.5 billion naira unaccounted for, Omale was quoted as saying.

He said despite the inflated costs, work on the Safe Tower projects at the four international airports had not made appreciable progress, and at one of the four – Kano – work has not even begun.

The probe is the latest in a series into Obasanjo\’s eight years in power which ended in 2007.

Since he stepped down, Obasanjo has been under constant scrutiny as to how he managed the country\’s oil revenue during his time in power.

He has come in for criticism for the several billion dollars ostensibly spent on improving the power sector when most of the country is without electricity most of the time.

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He has also been criticised for selling off state-owned companies on the cheap to his cronies and some such sales have been revoked by the current administration of President Umaru Yar\’Adua.

One of Obasanjo\’s daughters, the senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, is currently facing corruption charges in an Abuja high court.

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