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Senate initiates probe into Ajaokuta Steel Company’s affairs and $496m payment

Investigation Aims to Unravel Contractual Disputes and Mismanagement in Kogi State's Steel Sector

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The Senate embarked on a significant investigative journey on Tuesday, pledging to delve into the operations of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) in Kogi State, dating back to 2008.

Central to the inquiry is the examination of a $496 million payment reportedly made to Mr. Pramod Mittal, Chairman of Global Infrastructure Holdings Limited, by the Federal Government in September 2022. The payment allegedly stems from contractual disputes and demands clarification.

Furthermore, the Senate seeks to scrutinize the circumstances surrounding the re-concession of NIOMCO, despite the termination of its initial concession agreement during the Yar’adua administration. This decision, despite a positive review by the International Chamber of Commerce in London, raises questions that demand answers.

Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan (PDP Kogi Central) spearheaded the motion, lamenting the unrealized potential of both Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO since their establishment in the late 1970s. Despite their capacity to position Nigeria as a global steel exporter, bureaucratic corruption and a lack of political will have hindered their progress.

Akpoti-Uduaghan highlighted Nigeria’s staggering $3.3 billion annual expenditure on steel imports, exacerbating the inefficiencies of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Mill. She also raised concerns about the recently queried ₦33 billion electricity debt incurred by the Presidential Villa, further complicating the company’s operations.

In response, the Senate formed a committee chaired by Senator Adeniyi Ayodele Adegbonmire (SAN), with a diverse membership including Senator Natasha Akpoti, Senator Onawo Mohamed, Senator Joel Onowakpa, Senator Onyesoh Allwell Heacho, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya, Senator Patrick Chukwuba Ndubueze, Senator Tokunbo Abiru, and Senator Osita Ngwu.

Tasked with reporting back within two weeks, the committee aims to engage with relevant government bodies, departments, and industry stakeholders to compile a comprehensive report on the affairs of Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO from 2018 to the present.

The Senate’s proactive stance underscores its commitment to transparency, accountability, and the revitalization of Nigeria’s steel industry, signaling a pivotal moment in the nation’s industrial trajectory.

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