Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman has said her refusal to honour a $21 million invoice from the Niger Global Engineering & Technology Company Limited owned by Senator Uzodinma was responsible for the lingering face-off between the two.
It will be recalled that last week, Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, lashed out at the NPA management, accusing it of shunning his committee’s invitation over investigation of rice smuggling and of concealing information about ships that berthed at the nation’s seaports.
When Bala Usman and her team eventually appeared his Customs Committee on Thursday last week, he berated her for not honouring two earlier invitations of the committee and handed her a four-day ultimatum to “furnish the panel with details” of the missing vessels”.
National Daily findings reveal that the lingering face-off between the duo may not be unconnected with Bala Usman’s move to probe the activities of the Calabar Channel Management (CCM) and her refusal to honour a $21 million invoice from the company.
CCM, which is in charge of dredging Calabar Port, is a joint venture formed by NPA and a consortium of companies led by Niger Global Engineering & Technology Company Limited, owned by Uzodinma.
Explaining the relationship between NPA and CCM, she said, “Basically, our dredging activities are being done through three channel companies. We have the Lagos Channel Management Company, the Bonny Channel Management Company and the Calabar Channel Management Company. They do our dredging works in terms of capital and maintenance dredging of the channels into Lagos, Bonny and Calabar.
She said before her appointment, certain dredging work claimed to have been done by CCM was questioned by the former NPA management.
According to her, “The Bureau for Public Procurement had issued a memo to the then President (Goodluck Jonathan) stating that they had concerns with the technical partner of Calabar Channel Management Company.
“Also, the establishment of the company didn’t follow due process. This document was emphatic and it stated that the then President was misled about the company,” she said, adding that NPA management was “seeking the approval of our board to determine what we should do with the Calabar Channel”.
But Managing Director of CCM, Bart Van Eenoo, while speaking with newsmen on the matter, accused the NPA Managing Director of being “economical with the truth”.
“These are mere insinuations. They have no basis. The NPA MD is economical with the truth about the contract. The truth is that the NPA openly advertised for the establishment of a Channel Management Company for the Calabar navigation channel.
“Our company, Niger-Global Engineering & Technical Company Limited, duly bided and won the contract, leading to the establishment of Calabar Channel Management Limited, CCML, as a joint venture (JV) with the NPA on a 60:40 per cent equity,” Eeno said.
He said the NPA management had instigated petitions against CCM, for which the company had been cleared. He also faulted claim by Usman that CCM was making claims for payment for jobs not done.
Eeno said, “With all these, I am not afraid to say that the recent petition against our company to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleging that we had not done any work, which necessitated an EFCC investigative panel to look into the contract, was instigated by the NPA.