In Kano State, Nigeria, a N78 million road construction project has mysteriously disappeared, raising alarms about misuse of public funds. The Dawanau-Danguguwa Road, funded through the 2021 Zonal Intervention Project, was awarded to Hamki Strategic Business Ltd. However, WikkiTimes investigations found no trace of the contractor or construction along the 6.7-kilometer route, leaving Danguguwa residents bewildered. The saga exposes violations of the Public Procurement Act, including a lack of advertising and questionable contractor qualifications. WikkiTimes’ Aminu Adamu reports that the government’s silence and delayed responses to Freedom of Information requests amplify concerns about transparency and accountability.
As part of the zonal intervention project in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the Federal Government had budgeted N100,000,000.00 for the construction of Dawanau-Danguguwa Road in Dawakin Tofa Local Government area of Kano State.
Danguguwa is a predominantly agricultural community that survives and thrives primarily through the aged-long vocation of farming and rearing livestock while on the other hand, Dawanau Community, hosts the largest grains market in West Africa which enables exchange of all sorts of grains for cash and transported to different parts of Nigeria and beyond particularly West and Central African countries.
According to GovSpend.ng, an accountability platform that keeps records of the federal government’s expenditure powered by Budgit.org, the sum of over N78 million had been released to Hamki Strategic Business Ltd for the proposed road construction.
In January 2022, the fund was paid through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development now rechristened Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. Findings showed that N78,756,564.21 was released for the “construction of 0.8km asphaltic road in Dawanau-Danguguwa road.”
Road Project on Dawanau – Danguguwa Road
From Dawanau to Danguguwa community, it is a tarred road of 6.7 kilometres through Dawakin Tofa road which passes via Kwakwaci up to Danguguwa Primary School where the road ends.
WikkiTimes investigation found that the entire stretch of the road was constructed partly by Kano State Government and the Federal Government through the Zonal Intervention Project in 2021. Kano State Government constructed a substantive section of 4.5KM while the federal government constructed the other part through a contract by Oreodapz & Co Ltd.
Although Hamki Strategic Business Limited was paid N78,756,564.21 to construct a section of the same road, this investigation showed that the part constructed by the federal government was not by Hamki Strategic Business. There is no evidence on the Dawanau to Danguguwa of the presence of the contractor.
There are two different routes to Danguguwa from Dawanau. The first road which passes through Kwakwaci, on the main road from Dawakin Tofa, to Danguguwa has a distance of 6.7 km. From Dawanau to Kwakwaci junction up to the outskirts of Kwakwaci community, a distance of 4.5 km, was constructed by the Kano State Government.
Similarly, from the outskirts of the Kwakwaci community, a federal government-funded project was executed by Oreodapz & Co Ltd which is the construction of a 2KM asphaltic road covering the remaining distance to the entrance of the Danguguwa community.
However, the second route leading to Danguguwa from Dawanau was not constructed by Hamki. It is a 4.4km earth road which passes through Fagen Kawo and Auzinawa communities to the Danguguwa community as a donor project under the Kano Fadama Cares Delivery Platform project and the contractor was Arfat Multi Resources Ltd.
On the entire stretch of the 6.7km road right from the main Katsina road in Dawanau community to Danguguwa community, there was no signboard or any signifier that represents the contractor, Hamki Strategic Business Ltd or describes a project it has executed on the road.
This implies that the project was either not executed or it was relocated and executed elsewhere against the initial proposed location of Dawanau-Danguguwa.
Danguguwa Residents Speak
According to the village head of Danguguwa, Alhaji Bello Isyaku Danguguwa, there are only two road networks that connect Danguguwa to Dawanau which is through Kwakwaci and the other, through Auzinawa.
The traditional ruler explained that: “Dawaki-kwakwaci-Danguguwa road was constructed two or years ago. It is good asphaltic road. There is another road also constructed from Dawanau cikin gari to Danguguwa cikin gari that passes through Fagen Kawo to Auzinawa to Danguguwa. It is earth road and not asphaltic road.”
A resident of the community, Misham Garba, said: “There are only two roads leading to Dawanau from Danguguwa. This one which is longer through Kwakwaci-Dawaki, it is an asphaltic road and the other one is shorter but rough.”
Ibrahim Danduniya, another resident, lamented: “I think this very earth road was done about 10 months ago but currently there are places that have returned to its dilapidated shape that some people no longer ply it. From Bada Koko to Fagen Kawo, rain washed the sand that was put there completely because it wasn’t supported with drainage. There is a place that they ought to create a culvert but it was not done.”
A motorist, Alhaji Musa Sadi, who shuttles often between the two communities, said the proposed road construction through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development/Food Security will improve transportation and touch the lives of the communities and boost agro-economic activities in the areas.
On three different occasions, the reporter visited Dawanau and Danguguwa communities but could not trace anything such as the signboard of the contractor on the road.
Unlike other contractors that had executed projects around the area, the contractor, Hamki Strategic Business Ltd, did not provide a signboard of the project as a tradition for any work carried out.
Alhaji Hassan Abdulrazaq, a director of the company, when contacted said the project has been executed but refused to give any details. He directed the reporter to Alhaji Mutari Gwale, in Kano, to answer any questions regarding the project.
However, after talking on the phone with the reporter on October 30, where they agreed to meet eventually, Alhaji Mutari refused to pick up his calls and did not respond to WhatsApp and text messages sent to his phone.
Violations of Bidding Process
WikkiTimes’ investigation showed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that had awarded the contract violated extant provisions of the Public Procurement Act in the award of the project.
Sections 16, 19, 24 and 25 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 were violated in the process that led to the award of the contract to Hamki Strategic Business Ltd.
Section (16) (1) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, states: “Subject to any exemption allowed by this Act, all public procurement shall be conducted: (c) by open competitive bidding; (d) in a manner which is transparent, timely, equitable for ensuring accountability and conformity with this Act and regulations deriving therefrom.
Similarly, section (19) states that: “Subject to regulations as may from time to time be made by the Bureau under the direction of Council, a procuring entity shall, in implementing its procurement plans:
(a) advertise and solicit for bids in adherence to this Act and guidelines as may be issued by the Bureau from time to time; (b) to invite two credible persons as observers in every procurement process, one person each representing a recognized;(i) private sector professional organisation whose expertise is relevant to the particular goods or service being procured, and (ii) non-governmental organisation working in transparency, accountability and anti-corruption areas, and the observers shall not intervene in the procurement process but shall have right to submit their observation report to any relevant agency or body including their own organisations or associations;
According to Section (24)(1), Except as provided by this Act, all procurements of goods and works by all procuring entities shall be conducted by open competitive bidding. (2) Any reference to open competitive bidding in this Act means the process by which a procuring entity based on previously defined criteria, effects public procurements by offering to every interested bidder, equal simultaneous information and opportunity to offer the goods and works needed.
Section (25)(1) states that “Invitations to bid may be either by way of National Competitive Bidding or International Competitive Bidding …(2) Every invitation to an open competitive bid shall: (ii) in the case of goods and works valued under National Competitive Bidding, the invitation for bids shall be advertised on the notice board of the procuring entity, any official web sites of the procuring entity, at least two national newspapers, and in the procurement journal not less than six weeks before the deadline for submission of the bids for the goods and works.
However, this investigation found that the Ministry did not advertise and publicize the bidding process as required by the provisions of sections 16, 19, 24 and 25. Similarly, there had been no evidence of involvement of civil society organisations and accountability organisations as mandated by the law.
These provisions of the PPA, 2007 were violated as the Ministry chose the contractor without recourse to these provisions.
Findings from etender and Ministry’s websites, which are supposed to be the repository of the tenders of all Ministry’s activities do not contain announcements of the bidding although bidding announcements for other projects from 2018 – 2023 are available.
Lack of Experience, Vague Expertise
Hamki Strategic Business Ltd, incorporated in 2016 has vague professional specialisation in project execution. According to the Company’s status report from the CAC and NGcheck, the status and expertise of the company are unknown.
However, the company has previous experience in borehole drilling and classroom block constructions but not road construction, prior to being awarded the construction of Dawanau-Danguguwa asphaltic road in Dawakin Tofa LGA of Kano State.
But section 16 (4) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, says that “all bidders, in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents, shall “(a) possess the necessary: (i) professional and technical qualifications to carry out particular procurements; (ii) financial capability; (iii) equipment and other relevant infrastructure; (iv) shall have adequate personnel to perform the obligations of the procurement contracts.”
Kabir Musa, a Kano-based lawyer provided more insight into this. According to him, that a company is limited by the nature of the businesses it intends to carry out which is usually determined by “the company’s memorandum and articles of association. Where such a company carries on a business contrary to its memorandum, such business will be declared ultra vires. There is a limit to what a company can do,” he explained.
WikkiTimes found that the contractor does not even have a single dedicated office in Kano or Abuja where it has claimed to have offices.
Accordingly, the same Ministry of Agriculture, in similar bidding advertised in the past for projects in Kano and Jigawa, stipulates that “a contractor must provide a verifiable documentary evidence of at least three (3) similar jobs executed in the last five (5) years including Letters of Award, Valuation/ Job Completion Certificates and Photographs of the projects.”
The ministry contravened its own criteria in awarding a similar project in awarding projects to Hamki Strategic Business Ltd because the Dawanau-Danguguwa road was the first road construction that had been awarded to the company.
Vague Contractor, Non-existent Office Addresses, No Digital Footprint
According to the payment details obtained from govspend.ng, Hamki Strategic Business Ltd was the contractor that got paid for the road construction. The company status report obtained from CAC and the corresponding searches through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and NG-Check portals revealed that Hamki Strategic Business Ltd was registered on August 01, 2016, as a private company limited by shares.
As shown in the CAC reports, the company is associated with three different addresses. The first is Block B Flat 5 Lagos Court Gaduwa Estate, Gudu District, AMAC, FCT, Abuja, as the main office. The second shows the CAC report, that the company’s director, Abdulrazaq Hassan Muhammed, is situated at No. 3, Dambazau Road, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Nassarawa G. R. A. Kano, Kano State. And the third, the company had previously situated at No. 138, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kano.
In Kano, the two different locations identified as the offices of the contractor are a business shop and a residential house respectively. At the previous office address on Ibrahim Taiwo, the location was a Plaza Complex selling carpets and rugs. Similarly, the other address at Dambazau Road was a residential apartment and the occupant refutes knowledge of any company or name of the directors mentioned in the Hamki Strategic Business Ltd status report.
According to the Status report, Abdulrazaq Hassan Muhammed and Yahya Habiba Uba, all of No. 3, Dambazau Road, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Nassarawa G. R. A. Kano, Kano State, are the two directors of the company while Muhammad Zahraddini is the company’s secretary. The two directors alongside Abdulrazaq Hassan Abdulrazaq are the shareholders.
After arriving at the No. 3 Dambazau Road, a middle-aged watchman responded to the knocks on the door. “Okay let me ask them inside,” he said when enquired about the names of the directors of the company. Shortly after, he reappeared and said “We don’t have such a name here.”
“Is there an office or any company here,” he was asked. “Company? He asked as he laughed to the question.” No, we don’t have any office or company here in the house,” he said as he closed the gate.
For the Abuja location, after two different attempts to locate the office, a residential apartment was finally found to be resident of one Hassan Abdurrazaq. He affirmed that he is affiliated to Hamki Strategic Ltd but declined to respond to enquiries and only accepted the FOI request prepared for the Company. He then directed the reporter to one Alhaji Mukhtari in Kano.
In Kano, Alhaji Mukhtari snubbed the numerous calls and messages sent after he had earlier agreed to meet this reporter in October.
Alhaji Mutari said: “I think we are not the right people to show you the work because we have already left site. It is the ministry that will take you to the project site. Any information you want should come from the ministry, not us.”
Similarly, Abdurrazaq Hassan became furious when the reporter reached out to him for their response on the FOI request, he received on behalf of the company. “Did I give myself the work? Go to the ministry. I am fed up with your enquiries. Anything that you think you can do, go and do it,” Hassan said in response to a call from the reporter on the project.
Searches across different digital spaces could not yield any digital identity or presence of the company including sieving through social media platforms such as X [formerly known as Twitter] and Facebook.
The company appears to have no email address, website, or any digital identity as all searches returned negative.
Inactive, Unknown Status of the Company
While NG-check serves as a repository for all registered companies in Nigeria, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) which is the government agency saddled with the responsibility of registering companies in Nigeria and their records. According to the duo, Hamki Strategic Business Ltd is inactive and its current status remains unknown.
The award of a contract to an inactive company with an unknown status contravenes sections 417–424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, which state that “every company must make and deliver their annual returns to the CAC every year”.
According to the act, any company that is inactive has not updated its records and that company has failed to comply with sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 which requires them to file and update records with the commission on an annual basis.
It also contravenes Section 16 of the Public Procurement Act 2007. Section 16 Subsection 6(d) states: “All bidders, in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents, shall have fulfilled all their obligations to pay taxes, pensions, and social security contributions.
Explaining how companies become inactive, the now immediate past Registrar-General of the CAC, Garba Abubakar explained recently at a sideline of an event in Kano that: “if they have done the right thing, the database will reflect the correct (active) status. The unfortunate thing is that most people think when you register a company you are done with CAC.
“The law requires that you must file your annual returns every year depending on the size of the company.
“When you are filing your annual returns, you must attach your audited financial statements. Most of them (inactive) have not been doing that and any company that does not file its annual returns will be classified as inactive,” he added.
Also, section 417 stipulates that every company must make and deliver its annual returns to the CAC annually. In this case, Hamki Strategic Business Ltd has failed to meet this requirement to qualify for the award of contracts by the Federal Government.
In the same vein, Hamki Strategic Business Ltd violated section 16 (8) (d) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 which states that: “A bidder may have its bid or tender excluded if the bidder is in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges, pensions or social insurance contributions unless such bidders have obtained a lawful permit in respect to allowance, the difference of such outstanding payments or payment thereof in instalments.”
Musa explained that the public procurement manual specifically states that where a company is owing taxes, charges, levies and social welfare contributions, it may not be considered for the award of contracts.
Thus, by not satisfying these obligations stipulated by the act, the company has fallen short of the minimum requirement to qualify for the contract. However, the Ministry did not heed this provision of the law.
The company could be said to have relocated from its locations without updating their details with the CAC or they are simply non-existent, hurriedly-formed-suitcase companies that feast on such projects through connivance with the awarding MDAs to rip off public funds.
The company appears to have a questionable standing and has fallen short of the minimum requirements to qualify for the contract as stipulated by the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007.
Meanwhile, the facilitating Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, did not reply to the freedom of information request delivered to its Abuja Headquarters requesting details of the project.
On 30th October 2023, the reporter went to the Abuja Headquarters of the Ministry again to enquire about the FOI request earlier sent on 17th October. A staff member in the office of the Minster who simply identified herself as Hajia Sauda explained that the FOI request was still with the Minister. “it is still in the office of the Minister,” she said. Again, on 6th November when contacted via WhatsApp, she said, wallahi is not out yet.”
Similarly, an FOI request was dispatched to the Kano office of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
But one Abubakar Abdullahi called on Monday, November 6, that the director would want to see the reporter. At about 2:20 pm, the reporter met with Mr. Abdullahi who said that the director was in a meeting but instructed him to inform the reporter that the FOI request can only be answered by the Ministry’s headquarters or at its instructions.
He promised to provide the contact of an engineer from the Ministry’s Kano office who supervised the project but failed to provide it despite reminders.
This story is published under the 2023 GovSpend Media Fellowship, supported by BudgIT, ICIR and MacArthur Foundation