The auditing of the finances of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) between 2016 and 2020 as suggested by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari will be used to implicate the suspended Managing Director of the agency, SaharaReporters has learnt.
Amaechi had in a letter to the President on March 4, 2021, urged Buhari to approve the auditing of the NPA over shortfall in revenue.
Hadiza Bala Usman
The letter, from the Office of the Minister of Transportation and signed by the minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was titled, ‘Remittance of operating surplus to the consolidated revenue fund account (CRF) by the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2016 – date’
The letter was approved by Buhari on March 17, 2021.
Buhari on Thursday removed Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority for no stated reason.
It was however learnt that the probe would be used to nail Usman.
Usman was first appointed as the Managing Director of NPA in 2016, from when the investigation of the NPA finances will start.
SaharaReporters had reported that at the heart of Usman’s suspension is a Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) contract given out to a Lebanese syndicate by top government officials.
However, the letter from Amaechi to Buhari, seeking the auditing of NPA finances, said, “It has been observed from the records submitted by the Budget Office of the Federation that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the Nigerian Ports Authority from year 2016 to 2020 has been far short of the amount due for actual remittance.
“In view of the above, I wish to suggest that the financial account of the activities of Nigerian Ports Authority be investigated for the period 2016 to 2020 to ascertain the true financial position and the outstanding unremitted balance of one hundred and sixty five billion, three hundred and twenty million, nine hundred and sixty two thousand, six hundred and ninety seven naira only (N165,320,962,697).”
The prayer as stated in the letter by Amaechi is for the President to “approve that the account and remittance of NPA in the period of 2016-2020 be audited to account for the gross shortfall of remitted public funds.”
But a top source told SaharaReporters that “they are going to use the audit to use the auditing implicate her”.
SaharaReporters learnt that the controversial CTN contract was prepared for the Lebanese proxies by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Amaechi and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to rake in money into their coffers.
It was also gathered that the top government officials had also got President Buhari to buy into their deal, which is under the NPA jurisdiction, to swindle the country and its ailing economy.
On March 21, the President announced that he had directed Amaechi to reintroduce the CTN, citing the “increase in banditry across the nation and ideas to beef up security in the country.”
Buhari had been cajoled that the CTN contract would play a crucial role in enabling the nation address the growing spate of insecurity around cargo handling, according to top sources.
A competent source said, “Malami and the Senate President are behind the deal. Finally, they awarded it to a Lebanese. It is 100% confirmed because they even wanted us to do the contract. But when we realised they were interested in looting, we backed out.
“The Lebanese man will be giving them $300,000 monthly. That was one of the reasons behind Usman’s removal. It was a contract on container tracking. But there is still rivalry in the whole contract; there is the Amaechi camp on one side as well as Malami and Senate President on the other side.”
On Thursday, no reason was given for the suspension of Usman who was recently reappointed for another five-year tenure.
According to a release by President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, President Buhari approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Management of NPA.
“The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, to step aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that position. The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry while the Deputy Director, Legal of the same ministry will serve as Secretary. Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister,” Shehu had said in the release.
SaharaReporters, New York