Senate Probes Ajaokuta Steel Company over $496 Million Settlement

Ajaokuta steel company
Ajaokuta steel companygoogle photo

The Senate has decided on Tuesday to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the operations of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Ore Mining Company in Kogi State from 2008 till date.

It has planned to investigate the mystery of the $496m payment that was allegedly made to Pramod Mittal, Chairman of Global Infrastructure Holdings Ltd, by the Federal Government in September 2022 as a settlement for contractual disputes.

Despite the valid termination of the initial Concession Agreement by the Yar’adua Administration, with a positive review from the International Chamber of Commerce, London, it also resolved to investigate the circumstances that led to the re-concession of NIOMCO.

The Senate's resolutions on this matter followed a motion put forward by Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan (PDP Kogi Central), and thoroughly deliberated by numerous Senators.

Akpoti-Uduaghan mentioned that the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, both situated in Kogi State, were set up by the Federal Government in the late 70s. These establishments have the potential to propel Nigeria towards technological and industrial progress, positioning the country as a top exporter of steel products globally.

Decades after their establishment, the Ajaokuta steel mill and NIOMCO have unfortunately remained inoperative and unable to produce steel, despite seeming efforts by several administrations, due to a lack of earnest political will and bureaucratic corruption.

She stated that Nigeria is currently spending around $3.3 billion each year on steel imports and is saddened by the fact that a nation with abundant natural ore resources is plagued by moribund Ajaokuta and Delta steel, which have become channels for diverting public funds, to the detriment of Nigerian taxpayers.

At the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, she pointed out the existence of an abnormal management structure, where a Sole Administrator has unilaterally decided upon the steel mill’s corporate affairs for the past 12 years.

She said, “This has further worsened the inefficiency of the moribund company with the recently queried 33bn naira electricity debt incurred by the Presidential villa.”

Following the debate on the motion, the Senate proceeded to form a committee led by Senator Adeniyi Ayodele Adegbonmire (SAN), with members such as Senators Natasha Akpoti (Kogi Central), Onawo Mohamed (Nasarawa South), Joel Onowakpa (Delta), Onyesoh Allwell Heacho (Rivers East), Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi North), Sen Patrick Chukwuba Ndubueze (Imo North), Tokunbo Abiru (Lagos East), and Osita Ngwu (Enugu West).

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