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’’.
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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