”NPA  Operates  Foreign Accounts Approved By Federal Government, Not Aware Of Two  Secret Accounts’’- Bello-Koko, MD, NPA

By Stehen Ubanna

Those who thinks that the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, an agency under the Federal ministry of Transportation, which currently has Muazu Sambo, a former Lagos General Manager, Nigerian Inland Water Ways, NIWA, as the minister operates secret Foreign accounts may have to do a rethink. This is because Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA says the Authority only operates USD accounts approved by the government .

 Ibrahim Nasir,  General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the Authority, who has the mandate of Bello-Koko, the NPA, Managing  Director to speak out  may have responded to the allegations by an online Media Platform, not The Value News on Platform, that the agency  operates  two  secret  Foreign Accounts  that have been looted .

The NPA, General Manager  who sees the  Pint Blank online Platform reports as being sponsored had described it as ‘’false  and malicious’’, advising industry operators  and officials of the supervising ministry of Transportation to ignore it.   The NPA ,  Chief Executive Officer, CEO,  had told those that cares to listen    that he is not aware of any secret  Foreign accounts operated by the agency  which was not approved by the government .   

Giving an insider report on the agency’s, USD accounts, Nasir, the NPA’s spokesperson had said  that the Authority  operates two  USD-dominated  domiciliary  accounts  that were approved by the Federal government  and apparently  run , in accordance  with agreed official  safeguards   put in place by the office  of the Accountant General of the Federation  through the Central Bank of Nigeria and TSA,  policy  of the government  against possible  ‘’infractions and looting’’.

Ahmed: Former Account General Of Federation

He had said that the request  for approval   to open  the USD Accounts  for collection  of  service boats  pilotage charges  was made to the office of Accountant General  under the close watch of Idris-Ahmed, in 2016. Note that Ahmed, the then Accountant  General who  was removed  from office in May , 2022, over alleged criminal breach of office and is  currently being prosecuted by Abdulaziz Bawa led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  in a 14-charge bordering    on stealing  and criminal  breach of tryst  to the tune of N109.5 billion .

According to Nair,  the NPA,  spokesperson,  the  office of the  Accountant General  of the Federation,  had approved the opening  of the Foreign  Accounts , which was opened in Zenith   and Fidelity  Banks with their Correspondents Banks being   Citibank  N.A in London and NewYork respectively  for the  purposes  of collecting  the service boats  pilotage revenue  accruing to the agency  for services rendered  to clients.

The NPA, spokesperson noted that   as the  time of the request to the office of the Accountant to open the USD Counts, the class of revenue that was being collected   by Integrated Logistics Limited, INTELS,  linked to Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian Vice President, during Olusegun Obasanjo Administration  and the Opposition People’s Democratic  Party, PDP, Presidential Candidate for the 2023, general elections from inception  of the management agent  relationship dates back to 1996.

 The NPA, spokesperson, disclosed that the management agent relationship gave INTELS, the responsibility ‘’to monitor ‘’  the service boats  operations  and collect  revenue  from such operations on behalf of the Authority  at an agreed commission. He noted that  both NPA and INTELS , rely  on the provision  in the executed agreement  to have access to  view  the inflow  of Foreign Exchange   into the accounts  for easy of reconciliation  and to enable  it determine  online  real –time amounts  paid by clients  and the value of invoice  to send to the NPA  for payment  for management services.

The Value News online Platform, learnt that on a daily basis , INTELS remitted  a portion   of the revenue  collected  to the NPA and retained  significant  portion in their vault , comprising of Commission  on charges to clients  and cost of   Onne port  phase 4B  expansion  project through  amortization.

  The  Management of the NPA, may have considered  the practice  as being  completely at’’ variance   with the requirements of the  Treasury Single Account, TSA,  policy of the government  which had made it mandatory  that all  revenues  accruing  to all government  Ministries, Departments  and Agencies, MDs, must be remitted  to one consolidated  TSA, Account with the CNBN.

Informed sources told The online  Magazine  that the NPA  Management   were forced’’ to conduct  a thorough  review  of the executed management  policy agreement  it had entered with INTELS  as it felt the urgent need   ‘’to open  revenue accounts  dedicated  to the collection  of revenue  from service boats  operations based  on certain  parameters:

One of such parameters was to ensure that government revenues will no longer reside in the vault of private operators  or companies. Another parameter required  in opening the USD accounts  was  to ensure  seamless  reconciliation  of revenue collection from  theservice boats operations as there were   hundreds  entries  per month, to enthrone  accountability  and transparency  in the Management of the revenue  generations and collections  from service boats  operations and equally  to enhance prompt reconciliation  of service boats  revenue generation  and collection,  expected to facilitate  prompt recociliatio of agency Commission  by the Authority to INTELS  in a transparent manner.

This is in addition  to the prompt  remittance  of the net  revenue  after all the deductions of the agency’s  Commission  into  the  TSA sub-accounts  with the CBN.   It was not surprising why the NPA, general Manager, had described as’’ laughable the bogus claims by the Point Blank online Platform report with their sponsors   of ‘’the secrecy and diversion of Funds   from the accounts’’.

He has  told those that cares to listen  that ‘’there was no way  Funds from the  two approved Foreign accounts   could have been secretly diverted  or privatized  as significant safeguards had been put in place  by the Federal government to safeguard it.

It was gathered  that tin February 13, 2017,   Ahmed , the former Accountant General  of the Federation had issued NPA  a Letter  for the opening  of the collection  service boats pilotage  revenue,  and  the operational modalities, accounts The approval gave NPA   the nod to operate collection accounts only with two Commercial Banks to be designated  ‘’Transit account’’ . Going by the modalities for operating the Transit account, the balances must be swept daily into the TSA, revenue sub-accounts with the CBN, as agreed by the parties. 

Perhaps to forestall looting of the treasury, the government was said to have laid down rules and regulations for operating the account which include that there will not be withdrawals from the revenue accounts, that participatory banks  and ETLS , should write  formally to the NPA, to demand their collection of revenue charges  on a monthly basis as they  have agreed. 

The Magazine  was informed  that‘’ the NPA, upon due  confirmation and reconciliation  and necessary diligence  , will in  turn ,  forward  the request  to the office of the Accountant General  of the Federation   for payment of the parties, meaning that there was no way the USD  Accounts could haven looted. The office of the Accountant General may have given NPA, a soft landing to deal  with the participatory banks and INTELS , by seeking clarifications  on such  payments at any point in time .  

Moreso,  there  are other  traditional checks  mechanism  that  were said to have been put in place  with the Banks ‘’ to provide internet  banking  for the service  boats  revenue collection  to enable ‘’view only’’  and  printing  capabilities   of the Statements of accounts by over 20 top management staff members of the Authority.  Bello-Koko, the NPA boss, had said that Nigerians have no reason to worry about its pilotage revenue collections  because,  he and his Management Team   run an  Administration  and gives premium  to due process in the execution  of its core mandates.  

‘’We wish   to urge Nigerians to take note  of our commitment  to transparency   in our financial  transactions’’, he  had remarked.

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