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The Federal Government said it had released N3bn to the contractors handling the East-West Road dualisation project in Niger Delta to enable them return to the project sites and continue with their job.

It also denied media reports allegedly credited to the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Uguru Usani, that names of 40 contractors handling the East-West Road project had been submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for possible prosecution.

Usani spoke with journalists at a media briefing in Abuja on Friday.

He assured the people of the region that the highway would not be abandoned, insisting that the present administration was committed to completing the project.

He explained that there were only four contractors “handling the five sections of the East-West Road,” adding that none of them was found wanting or indicted in the course of executing the project.

He was reacting to media reports that the Federal Government had sent names of 40 contractors to the EFCC over their inability to meet government’s expectations in the East-West Road project and other projects in the Niger Delta.

Uguru was also quoted to have said that the East-West Road project, awarded in 2006 by the administration of former President OlusegunObasanjo, was originally designed to fail.

He said, “Last Wednesday, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, we had reasons to address the press. Arising from that briefing, we observed that some media reports did not convey our exact expression. And it becomes necessary to use this opportunity to set the record straight.

“First, I found it in some publications that 30 to 40 contractors of the East-West Road (are) to be sent to the EFCC. It is not correct. The East-West Road in the first place doesn’t have more than three or four contractors. And the sections of the road are not more than five. So, it is a careless story with the least application of information.

“Two, the area I mentioned (at the villa) on the East-West Road was to note that the conceptual design and attribution of its execution to conditions of agreement suggest that the project ab initio was designed to fail. And this is the reason why we have continued spending without being able to know at what point this will end.”

“We did not say that the contractors were going to be sent to the EFCC. We said the anomalies in the agreement and design were being reviewed now and when the report was ready, we would see it.

“We have cordial relationship with the contractors of the East-West Road and we have asked them to go back to work. At present, I know that we have committed a minimum of N3bn to the contractors working on the East-West Road to continue their work.

“And as we get releases, we will continue to fund them within the limit of appropriation. So we couldn’t have been funding them to go to the site and at the same time be sending them to the EFCC to go and face litigation. There is no basis for that.

“So, I want this corrected. They have not offended us and at no time have we found them culpable to the extent of wanting to penalise them. So, this story can only set us back by causing apprehension among the contractors. And I wish it would be corrected forthwith.”

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