By Ismail Auwal
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has inaugurated a committee to investigate the alleged deficit in operating surpluses by the administration of Hadiza Bala Usman as MD/CEO of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Mr Amaechi, while inaugurating the panel of enquiry, tasked the members to be honest and thorough in their investigation.
The Chairman and Co- Chair of the committee are Mr Auwalu Suleiman, The Director Maritime Services and Mr Ben Omogo, Director, Organization Design & Development (OHCSF) respectively.
The terms and references of the committee include: “Examine and investigate the administrative policies and strategies adopted by the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 — date.
Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage and other contracts of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and Presidential directives.
“Examine and investigate compliance with the 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 Nigerian Ports Authority and forestall such occurrences in future.
And any other matter that may be necessary in the course of the assignment.”
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives had earlier called for the involvement of the Economic and other Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the investigation process.
In a statement signed by the House Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, on Monday, the lawmakers insisted that a huge economic crime against the nation should not be left to an administrative panel of enquiry, but committed to an anti-graft agency like the EFCC for an independent investigation.
The lawmakers stated that they were concerned that the alleged NPA looting was committed to an administrative panel, saying that political manipulations and partisan influences had taken precedence over what should have been a system-wide investigation into a monumental fraud.
“Our Caucus holds that the mere suspension of the indicted Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, and the resort to an administrative panel of enquiry even after the report by the Supervising Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, exposed an unremitted and possibly diverted operating surplus of N165 billion, amounts to romancing and perfuming corruption by the APC-led Federal Government.
The Minority Caucus also believes that the recourse to an administrative instead of a full-scale criminal investigation can only serve as a decoy to shield some other APC government officials involved in the looting spree at NPA and other affiliated agencies in the transport sector.
This is because, apart from the unremitted N165 billion cited by the Minister, other documents and reports from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had also uncovered several sleazes, including unremitted deduction to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) amounting to N3,667,750,470. $148,845,745.04, Euro 4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14,” the caucus stated.
Hadiza Bala Usman was appointed in 2016 and her tenure was renewed for another five years in January but she was suspended last week.