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Union supports Senate probe of NPA’s dredging contracts



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By Richards Adeniyi
The Deputy President-General of the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASGOC), Comrade Jimoh Umar Omeiza, has thrown its weight behind the decision of the Senate to probe the activities of the Joint Venture Enterprises of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Recall that the Senate on Wednesday adopted a motion on the floor to begin a probe into the $3 billion allegedly spent by the NPA on the dredging of Lagos, Bonny and Calabar water channels.
The lawmakers mandated the Senate Committee on Marine Transport to investigate the “dredging activities, books and records” of the NPA and the three contracted companies, in each of which the authority holds 60 per cent stake.
The NPA entered into joint venture agreements with the Lagos Channel Management, the Bonny Channel Company, and the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited, to engage in dredging and maintenance of the channel leading to the various seaports across the country.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos recently, Umar affirmed that dredging of the Calabar channel was good business for the country but with wrong approach.
Umar who is the immediate past president of SSASGOC, Maritime branch, said what the Calabar port needed only maintenance dredging and not capital was dredging because of siltation that do come in.
The ex-top officials involved are the former managing director of NPA, Adebayo Sarumi; a former managing director of NPA’s Eastern Ports, Felix Ovbude; a former Executive Director of Finance at the NPA, Abba Murtala Mohammed.
Also indicted are Daniel Afam-Obi, a former executive assistant to Sullivan Akachukwu Nwankpo who was ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s special adviser on technical matters.
They were accused of allegedly collecting more than $2.7 million from a Switzerland dredging company, Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd.
The Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd is part of a consortium which formed The Bonny Channel Management Limited that in turn entered into a joint venture arrangement with the NPA to form the Bonny Channel Company saddled with “creating and maintaining a safe navigational passage for all marine users to and in the Eastern Ports of Bonny Island, Onne, Okrika and Port-Harcourt”.
The NPA holds 60 per cent equity in the JVC while the Bonny Channel Management Limited consortium (comprising Dredging International, Vinci, IPEM and Dapesa Limited) has the remaining 40 per cent.
The trio of Sarumi, Ovbude and Mohammed were accused of allegedly collectively receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks from the company while Mr. Afam-Obi was said to have been paid $157,000 for unknown reasons.


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