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Suspended NPA boss clears air on N165bn corruption allegations

Suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman has reacted to allegations being levelled against her over the managing of NPA during her tenure.

Reacting to some of the allegations made against her, Hadiza Usman said: “To start with, the Nigerian Ports Authority has an executive management team, which always considers and takes business decisions on all assets of the Authority in the best interest of Nigeria. To claim that I single-handedly awarded a contract in my capacity as Managing Director, is therefore, irresponsible, mischievous, and defamatory,” she said.

She said, “the report also mischievously lumped the now expired service boat contract between the NPA and the Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELs), which took off in 2007 with a review of a ten-year extension in 2011 to culminate in an expiration in August 2020 with the lease under discussion. The service boat contract expired through the effusion of time and the Authority initiated a procurement process in which INTELs participated in line with all extant laws.”

Concerning Onne berths 9, 10 and 11, which the report alleged was “clandestinely” taken from INTELs, she said the Authority offered those berths to INTELs in 2013 without any contractual agreement even though the offer letter required that the company should pay rent to the Authority for the use of the berths.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has inaugurated an 11-member committee to investigate activities of the NPA included all contracts awarded  since 2016 by the suspended NPA managing director, Hadiza Bala Usman.

The investigation committee follows May 6 approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the management of the NPA.

Amaechi, while inaugurating the committee on Monday in Abuja, charged the members to be diligent and ensure they do a thorough job.

The committee’s terms of reference, he said, include examining and investigating the administrative policies and strategies adopted by NPA’s Managing Director, Hadiza Usman, and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 till date.

“Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of other contracts of NPA and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court ruling and presidential directives.

“Examine and investigate compliance with communication channel, as obtained in the public service.

“Examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date.

“Come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of NPA and forestall such occurrences in future.

“And any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment,” the minister said.

According to Amaechi, the investigation is part of the mandate of the ministry to oversee activities of its various parastatal agencies.

“This is in the discharge of our responsibility as a ministry and I don’t see why anybody is complaining.

“What is wrong in looking at what is happening in NPA? I don’t see what is wrong in that. As the Minister of Transportation for four years, I hardly know what is happening and I want to know now. The president agrees with me that it’s my responsibility as minister to find out what is going on. It worries me that people are saying we should not ask questions. Nobody has been indicted.

“It is just, can we know what is going on in NPA? That’s the question. If everything is right, why do we have to bother at the end of the day?

“When you have completed your assignment, we will be glad to pass on the report to the President, but don’t forget your assignment will include activities of procurement and its processes from 2016 till date.

“And that is why you do not have a time limit. So, it will take you some time. You are not auditing, but to find out the processes.

“Please be diligent, invite anybody you want to invite, including the minister, if there are infractions you need me to clarify,” he said.

 

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