The Senate has mandated its Committee on Marine Transport to investigate a $3bn fraud allegation against the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The allegations were raised on Wednesday in a Point of Order moved by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central Senatorial District.
Senator Omo-Agege said the alleged fraud was in connection with the activities of the Joint Venture Enterprises of the NPA, namely, the Lagos Channel Management, the Bonny Channel Company, and the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited.
He noted that both the Lagos Channel Management and the Bonny Channel Company were established in August 2005 for the management and routine maintenance dredging of Lagos and Bonny navigation channels, while the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited was established for the management and capital dredging of the Calabar channel.
Senator Omo-Agege highlighted that although the aforementioned companies were conceived to operate a public-private partnership (PPP) model and to reduce the financial burden on the Federal Government, the NPA has expended over $1bn and $2bn on the Lagos Channel Management and the Bonny Channel Company respectively from 2005 till date.
According to him, despite the huge expenditure, significant dredging is yet to commence on the Calabar channel, notwithstanding that the channel is an economic gateway to the North Central and North East geo-political zones of the country.
He stated that in spite of the financial commitments of the NPA to some of its joint ventures, empirical facts, evidence and data — including current Admiralty Charts from Lloyds of London — show that the purported claims of daily maintenance dredging are questionable.
“This is because the depth profiles of the Lagos and Bonny channels have remained at the same height of 13 meters for over 11 years,” Omo-Agege said. “Furthermore, in the 2017 Budget of the NPA, the Lagos Channel Management and the Bonny Channel Company have requested for N23 billion and N20 billion respectively.”
In this regard, the Senate mandated its Committee on Marine Transport to investigate the dredging activities, books, and records of the Nigerian Ports Authority; the Lagos Channel Management Limited; the Bonny Channel Company Limited; and the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited, which was established for the management and capital dredging of the Calabar channel.
Speaking on the development, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, directed that the Marine Transport Committee should report back to plenary in a week.
“These are the issues we will be bringing out from agencies in order to fight and protect the interests and rights of all Nigerians,” the Senate President said, “The Committee on Marine Transport should report back within a week and ensure that the work is done diligently so as not to affect the NPAs budget process.”