By Haruna Salami
The National Assembly has sacked two Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firms due to alleged breach of trust.
The firms were engaged in 2018 to carry out an “Internet Bandwidth Connectivity Upgrade Project” within the National Assembly, according to an audit report sighted by our reporter in Abuja.
This is coming even as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Nigeria Good Governance Research Centre, NIGOGOREC accused the indicted and sacked firms of orchestrating a campaign of calumny against the Clerk to the National Assembly, Arc. Ojo Olatunde Amos.
A group under the auspices of Equity and Transparency Development Initiative,
had accused the CNA of “aiding espionage” and influencing award of ICT contract to a company in which he allegedly had vested interest.
In a petition, the body urged the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate its allegations against the CNA.
The petition was sequel to the formal disengagement of the indicted consultancy firms by the National Assembly.
The report sighted by our correspondent disclosed that of the three ICT firms engaged by the National Assembly to upgrade its internet bandwidth, only one was found to have fulfilled it’s contractual obligations.
It lamented that the other two firms, now disengaged due to their alleged failure to live up to the terms of award of the contract following a comprehensive audit of their services, were found to have shortchanged the National Assembly by delivering far less internet bandwidth than what was paid for by the National Assembly.
According to the report, it was required of the three vendors to supply internet services directly to the National Assembly Data Centre from a Tier-1 Service Provider in accordance with their service provisioning engagement terms.
However, the findings indicated that two of the vendors sourced their services from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) licensed Tier-1 Service Providers, while internet services from the third firm was not sourced from a Tier-1 Service Provider.
The report further noted that while an Autonomous System Number (ASN) registration was primarily to ensure that the National Assembly network is autonomous from service provider control as a unique identification number, the following anomalies were discovered:
“The supposedly Autonomous System Number assigned to National Assembly (a government entity) was actually registered to a private company by one of the vendors.
“The IP (Internet Protocol) Prefixes of …supposedly bought for the National Assembly with 1,024 public IP Addresses was divided into four prefixes, out of which only 256 IP Addresses were assigned to the National Assembly and the remaining 786 IP Addresses were assigned to (one of the firms), thereby using NASS network infrastructure and resources for their private enterprise.”
The report also indicated that the Managing Director of one of the sacked firms, is also the official administrator of the ASN and a major stakeholder in another firm that is the registered owner of the ASN purportedly arranged on behalf of the National Assembly.
“The implication is that the management of the ASN is solely in the hands of (the two private firms). This act is a major exposure to NASS, and at will, they can manipulate the NASS network for personal gain and hold it to ransom,” the report surmised.
In its recommendations, the report noted that the management of the National Assembly’s core ICT infrastructure should be the “prioritised responsibilities” of its ICT department as the “sensitive task of Autonomous System (AS) registration and network management shouldn’t have been outsourced to any consultant without departmental involvement for checks and balance purposes.”
It added: “However, ICT infrastructure installations, configurations and maintenance could be contracted out with departmental supervision to prevent any breaches.
“National Assembly Autonomous System registration that was wrongly registered with (a private firm) as the owner should be reverted immediately to the National Assembly that paid legally for the said registration or ICT department should do a new ASN registration specifically for (the) National Assembly.
The report also contained some damning conclusions about the sacked firms. Also, the report further recommended that the company that failed to source bandwidth from the NCC licensed Tier-1 Service Providers should be disengaged.
“Based on the discoveries during the investigation of the purported Autonomous System Number (ASN) registration for National Assembly, a gross misconduct act was established against” a company which is the ICT facilities management Consulting firm for colluding with the MD of another firm to register NASS paid ASN for their company’s commercial venture, and also diverted NASS Network Infrastructure and resources for their private enterprise.
Thus, the report said the indicted company should “be disengaged as National Assembly ICT Consultant as it’s evident that their role in the management of ICT infrastructure creates more confusion than providing the needed solutions”, the report said.
The Audit further revealed that NASS sensitive enterprise server infrastructure containing the database of Legislators, management and staff of the National Assembly is being managed and controlled by a Ghanaian with unregulated access to entire NASS ICT infrastructure.
Noteworthy is that contract of the firm that this Ghanaian represents has elapsed since 2016 and refused to handover the credentials of the servers to the ICT department until new Amos Ojo administration recovered the infrastructure from the cartel and blocked all the tunnel created for their remote control of NASS ICT infrastructure.
Meanwhile an NGO – the Nigeria Good Governance Research Centre (NIGOGOREC) in a statement in Abuja by its Executive Director, Comrade Igbotako Nowinta described the allegations against the CNA as “frivolous, baseless and unfounded.”
Nowinta accused the indicted ICT firms that were sacked following the recommendations in the report, of masterminding the said petition to the ICPC as a revenge against the management of the National Assembly, especially the CNA.
The statement says while the group supports and encourages the ICPC to dispassionately carry out its statutory function concerning this matter, it was concerned about “orchestrated witch-hunt” against Ojo Olatunde Amos.”