Senator Natasha Calls for Probe into Alleged Corruption at Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO

Senator Natasha Calls for Probe into Alleged Corruption at Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO

Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, representing Kogi Central senatorial district, has initiated a motion in the Senate seeking an investigation into purported corruption and inefficiencies at the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASL) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) in Kogi state.

The motion, brought forward on Tuesday, underscores Senator Natasha’s concerns regarding the management of Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO from 2008 to the present day. She particularly emphasized the need to scrutinize the circumstances surrounding the re-concession of NIOMCO, following the termination of the initial concession agreement during the Yar’adua administration.

Senator Natasha highlighted the alleged payment of $496 million to the Chairman of Global Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (GINL) by the Federal Government in 2022 as a settlement over ASL contractual disputes. She asserted that the failure of Ajaokuta Steel and NIOMCO to operate optimally since their establishment in the late 1970s has been exacerbated by political apathy and bureaucratic corruption.

The senator recounted the history of failed attempts to revive the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, including the surreptitious concessions of NIOMCO and ASCL to unqualified entities in 2003. Despite previous investigations and recommendations by the House Committee on Steel in 2004 and subsequent efforts by the Federal Government, challenges persist in revitalizing the steel sector.

Concerns were raised over the alleged involvement of individuals associated with Global Steel Holdings Ltd (GSHL), including Pramod Mittal, in questionable business practices in various countries. Senator Natasha underscored the economic implications of Nigeria’s dependence on steel imports despite possessing abundant ore resources, attributing this to the mismanagement of Ajaokuta and Delta steel plants.

The Senate responded by establishing an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the affairs of ASL and NIOMCO, focusing on the period from 2008 to date. Additionally, relevant ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs), and stakeholders in the steel sector will be invited to provide insights and contribute to the comprehensive report.

The Senate urged the Federal Government to review existing policies and laws on steel development, emphasizing the strategic importance of steel in Nigeria’s industrialization and economic self-reliance efforts.

In conclusion, the Senate’s decisive action reflects its commitment to addressing allegations of corruption and inefficiency within the steel industry, with the aim of promoting transparency, accountability, and sustainable development.

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