Nigeria’s Lekki toll gate project scrutinized for money and environmental concerns

Government investigators are calling for an independent audit of Nigeria’s controversial Lekki toll gate project, but the regulator has leveled no criminal charges, meaning the attorney general’s office would likely have to subpoena the contractor.

Critics have called the $900 million toll highway a fraud since it was started in 2010. But authorities insist it was a legitimate investor that made the $3 billion dollar investment in a 67 mile highway connecting Victoria Island in Lagos with Lekki in the northeast.

The $12 toll road, which runs through Lagos island and its mainland, was also built in a flood-prone area, which the project’s developers built a special swamp wall to divert waters. Authorities said investors hoped the tunnel would attract more tourists, bridge Lagos as a tourist destination, reduce pollution and improve traffic.

In 2017 the Nigerian senate began its investigation into the toll gate project, which delayed a December auction of the project’s power plant licenses.

The investigation found that:

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) never completed an assessment of the construction’s environmental impact;

Thieves stole some of the more than $90 million in contractors’ funds.

An NERC internal audit stated the total price of the road was $12 million, not $3 billion.

Inspector General for Economic and Financial Crimes, Ibrahim Idris has since called for an audit of the situation, to conduct a review of funds and agreements, if necessary.

“Anybody that has concluded that $12 million is the cost of the project as an auditor and then any credible audit firm can confirm this. You cannot have it and put that $3 billion as the cost,” he said.

The Public Works agency in Nigeria, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Johnson Lanre Adeyemi, has also called for an independent audit of the toll gate investigation, but promised the investigation would be “unbiased and objective” and conducted transparently.

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