By Salim Yunusa
Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, says he is not aware of the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman as the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
On May 5, President Muhammadu Buhari approved Usman’s suspension following a recommendation by Amaechi.
After Usman’s suspension, Amaechi inaugurated an 11-member investigative panel to probe NPA over all contracts awarded since 2016 when Usman became its managing director.
Usman was initially accused of failing to remit the operating surplus of NPA to the consolidated revenue fund (CFR) — an allegation she denied.
In an interview with Arise TV on Monday, Amaechi denied knowledge of Usman’s suspension, saying she was only asked to “step aside” pending the conclusion of the probe on NPA.
“I am not aware that I suspended Hadiza, I’m not the president. So I don’t have such power. That power rests with the president,” he said.
“I am not aware that Hadiza was suspended. What happened, I suspect, is that she was asked to step aside to enable investigation to be carried out on NPA, not on her.
“We are investigating NPA. At the conclusion of the investigation, all the reports will be forwarded to the president who would make a determination on the way forward.”
Amaechi added that he is not sure when the panel will conclude its ongoing probe on NPA.
The minister also accused the media of creating “too much noise” on the suspension of the NPA MD.
“The panel is not headed between the ministry of transport and office of the head of service. The office of the head of service contributed six persons including auditors and accountants, and the ministry of transport just brought five,” he said.
“So it is a panel of 11 that has been instituted to investigate activities of NPA from 2016 till the present day.
“It is NPA that is under investigation. The managing director has just been asked to step aside pending the conclusion of the investigation. And when the investigation is concluded, the president will make a determination and decide what happens next.”