Suspended managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, has debunked a report by online newspaper, Sahara Reporters, which alleged that she awarded coastline terminals to a proxy company belonging to Aliko Dangote in a shady deal.
The embattled NPA boss described such allegation and report as false, irresponsible, mischievous and defamatory.
Usman said the NPA has an executive management team that considers and takes business decisions on all assets of the authority, and that it was irresponsible and mischievous to claim that she awarded a contract in her capacity as managing director, singlehandedly.
She said, “The report also mischievously lumped the now expired service boat contract between the NPA and the Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELs), which took off in 2007 with a review of a ten-year extension in 2011 to culminate in an expiration in August 2020 with the lease under discussion.
“The service boat contract expired through the effluxion of time and the Authority initiated a procurement process in which INTELs participated in line with all extant laws.”
She explained further: “Concerning Onne berths 9, 10 and 11, which the report alleged was ‘clandestinely’ taken from INTELs, here is the true position: The authority offered these berths to INTELs in 2013 without any contractual agreement even though the offer letter required that the company should pay rent to the authority for the use of the berths.
“In 2018, the Authority realised that INTELs had neither been making these payments for five years nor putting the berths to optimal use. The authority then wrote INTELs to request for the payment of the arrears of monies that were unpaid and expand the utilisation of the facility.
“With the continued under-utilisation of the facility, the fact that there was no contractual agreement with INTELs from the outset and the urgent need to decongest the ports in Lagos, the authority offered the berths to an internationally renowned container handling company, Messers International Container Terminal Nigerian Limited (ICTNL) for the use of the berths for container cargo discharging.
“ICTNL has signed a contract for the lease of the berths with the authority and has commenced the installation of container handling equipment when INTELS instituted a court action challenging the withdrawal of the offer. That case is still in court!
“And according to reports in the media, ICTNL has refuted allegations that it has connections with Alhaji Aliko Dangote. This exposes another disgraceful fabrication by Sahara Reporters.”
Usman also noted the insinuation by the newspaper that there was a monetary transfer between her and Dangote during the 2015 elections, saying no such thing happened.
She said having taken time to explain the true position of things, she would expect the newspaper to publish the rebuttal “and give it the same measure of prominence given to the false story, which runs against all known ethics of journalism.”