Embattled suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, has debunked claims by an online newspaper, Sahara Reporters, that she unlawfully frustrated NPA contractors, particularly INTELS, and incurred losses for the Nigeria’s maritime sector.
In a statement she personally endorsed on Sunday, Ms Usman said neither she nor the Nigerian Ports Authority disobeyed any court order in their relationship with INTELS or any other company.
She said there was, in fact, no court order existing at the time of the expiration of the boat pilotage contract between the NPA and INTELS by August 8, 2020, and that the contract was not terminated as claimed by Sahara Reporters.
Usman explained: “For the records, INTELS was engaged as Managing Agents of the authority for oil industry related activities in the compulsory pilotage district within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria.
“This contract commenced in June 2007 with a review of an extension of 10 years in 2011 to culminate in August 2020.
“The authority had in 2017 served INTELS with a notice of termination for its refusal to comply with the Treasury Single Account policy of the Federal Government.
“Following the receipt of the termination notice, the company complied with the policy. A supplemental agreement was signed to recognise the compliance to TSA and the notice of termination was accordingly withdrawn.
“In compliance with the Public Procurement Act, the Authority in December 2019 initiated a Public Tender (contrary to Sahara Reporters’ falsehood) process in anticipation of the expiration of the contract in August 2020. This was for the appointment of a contractor to provide the authority with that service.
“INTELS, alongside other companies, submitted bids to qualify for the tender in line with the criteria spelt out in the public advert. INTELS violated one of the criteria advertised for the tender process and was accordingly disqualified.
“The tender process proceeded accordingly and the companies that scored the highest were prequalified. The outcome of the transparent tender process was forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Transportation for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for its consideration.”
She said that upon disqualification from the tender process, INTELS initiated a court action to prevent the NPA from proceeding with the tender process citing a debt owed one of its sister companies, Deep Offshore Nigerian Limited, for the development of Onne 4B.
“This is an amortization project which payment should be derived from the revenue raised from this service. There was no provision in the contract to the effect that INTELS must be the company carrying out the boat pilotage contract, but they have continued to hold the country to ransom for through this court case,” she added.
Usman said that despite court case, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently working on recovering all federal government funds that INTELS has withheld over the years.
She expressed disappointment that an organisation like Sahara Reporters which claims to fight corruption is rather tacitly approving illegality, instead of joining hands with government to eliminate it.
“It is unfortunate that Sahara Reporters has continued to use its platform to tell Nigerians half-truths and outright lies about this situation with the false narratives which are aimed at anything but the interest of the good people of Nigeria,” she said.