The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has expressed concerns over a recent PREMIUM TIMES report which detailed how some former top officials of the agency were indicted in Switzerland for alleged corruption.
The Managing Director of the agency, Hadiza Bala Usman, said the report, apart from being “deeply embarrassing” to the NPA, was particularly worrisome because it cast doubts on the processes, integrity and business ethics of her agency.
“It is a development we are deeply worried about because it relates to the integrity of our agency and process,” she said.
Consequently, Ms. Bala Usman said the agency would request relevant Nigerian agencies to conduct thorough investigations of those named in the foreign bribery saga.
“We are reviewing the indictments and we will call for a full-scale investigation as it relates to companies and individuals in Nigeria said to have been involved,” Ms. Bala Usman said. “This corruption revelation is a helpful development.”
In fact, the NPA boss said, the PREMIUM TIMES report would top the agenda when the agency’s board meets next month.
In early May, Swiss prosecutors named four former Nigerian government officials in a multinational bribe scandal relating to contract awards at the NPA.
A former Managing Director of the agency, Adebayo Sarumi; a former Managing Director of NPA’s Eastern Ports, Felix Ovbude; a former Executive Director of Finance at the NPA, Abba Murtala Mohammed; and Sullivan Nwankpo, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s special adviser on technical matters, were said to have received illicit payments from a firm working for the NPA.
Swiss authorities believe Daniel Afam-Obi, a former executive assistant to Mr. Nwankwo, acted as front for his principal.
The were indicted alongside Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd, which was sentenced to a fine of one million Swiss Francs and asked to refund 36 million Swiss Francs in illegal profits for allegedly making the illicit payments to the Nigerian officials.
While Messrs Sarumi, Ovbude and Mohammed allegedly collectively received $2.6 million in kickbacks, Mr. Afam-Obi was said to have been paid $157,000 for unknown reasons. Another $18 million was passed to companies in which some yet unknown Nigerian officials have interests.
Mr. Sarumi denied the allegations while Mr. Ovbude claimed ignorance of the matter, even though he was once quizzed by the EFCC over the case.
The NPA is amongst the biggest sources of revenue for the country, but it is also an agency fraught with corruption.
Even though some investigations were conducted in the past to unravel alleged corruption in the agency, hardly had any official been brought to justice.
The conviction of Olabode George, a politician and former chairman of the NPA, by a Lagos State High Court was quashed a few years later by the Supreme Court, in one of the most controversial verdicts of the apex court in recent years.
In her reaction to the latest case, Ms. Bala Usman told PREMIUM TIMES the revelations from Switzerland underline her concern about the modus operandi of joint venture firms carrying out dredging work for the NPA.
“We have been concerned about the joint-venture companies, the way they operate and the attendant high cost of dredging,” she said.
“We have been very busy trying to reform the entire arrangement.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...