Suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, on Sunday expressed anger over allegations by the portal by Sahara Reporters that she awarded the Coastline Terminals contract to a proxy company of business mogul Aliko Dangote “in a shady deal”.
“My attention has been drawn to a report published by Sahara Reporters alleging that I, Hadiza Bala Usman “was involved in a clandestine ploy to shortchange a company in favour of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.”
“This report is false, without any foundation and a figment of some wild imagination of the news platform,” Ms Usman said while reacting to the story entitled “How Suspended NPA Boss, Hadiza Usman Awarded Coastline Terminals to Dangote’s Proxy Company in Shady Deal”.
“To start with,” she said in a statement, “the Nigerian Ports Authority has an executive management team, which always considers and takes business decisions on all assets of the Authority in the best interest of Nigeria. To claim that I singlehandedly awarded a contract in my capacity as Managing Director, is therefore, irresponsible, mischievous, and defamatory.
“The report also mischievously lumped the now expired service boat contract between the NPA and the Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELs), which took off in 2007 with a review of a ten-year extension in 2011 to culminate in an expiration in August 2020 with the lease under discussion. The service boat contract expired through the effluxion of time and the Authority initiated a procurement process in which INTELs participated in line with all extant laws.
“Concerning Onne berths 9, 10 and 11, which the report alleged was “clandestinely” taken from INTELs.”
Ms Usman said that the true position is as follows:
• The Authority offered these berths to INTELs in 2013 without any contractual agreement even though the offer letter required that the company should pay rent to the Authority for the use of the berths.
• In 2018, the Authority realised that INTELs had neither been making these payments for five years nor putting the berths to optimal use.
The Authority then wrote INTELs to request for the payment of the arrears of monies that were unpaid and expand the utilisation of the facility.
• With the continued under-utilisation of the facility, the fact that there was no contractual agreement with INTELs from the outset and the urgent need to decongest the ports in Lagos, the Authority offered the berths to an internationally renowned container handling company, Messers International Container Terminal Nigerian Limited (ICTNL) for the use of the berths for container cargo discharging.
• ICTNL has signed a contract for the lease of the berths with the Authority and has commenced the installation of container handling equipment when INTELS instituted a court action challenging the withdrawal of the offer. That case is still in court!
• And according to reports in the media, ICTNL has refuted allegations that it has connections with Alhaji Aliko Dangote. This exposes another disgraceful fabrication by Sahara Reporters.
“I also note the insinuation of a non-existent monetary transfer between Alhaji Dangote and I during the 2015 elections. As I told People’s Gazette when I was approached about this story, no such transaction occurred.
“Having gone through the trouble to give this explanation, I demand that Sahara Reporters publish this rebuttal and give it the same measure of prominence given to the false story, which runs against all known ethics of journalism,” the suspended NPA MD said. (News Express)