… Alleges Discredited Contractors Behind Serial Media Attacks
L-R: General Manager, Monitoring and Compliance, Nigerian Ports Authority, Managing Director; Hadiza Bala Usman, Executive Director; Engineering and Technical Services; Idris Abubakar, Acting General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communication; Mr Isa Suwaid at a meeting with maritime journalists at the NPA head office on FridayThe Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Hadiza Bala Usman has denied any wrongdoing in the award of the $44.861million (N16.150 billion) Warri Channel dredging contract to Dredging International Services Nigeria (DISN) Limited, a subsidiary of Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Limited, the company that was alleged to be involved in the $20 million bribery of some ex-officials of the NPA and the Ministry of Transportation.
Reacting to serial media attention that the controversial contract has been enjoying lately, the NPA boss alleged that the media attacks were being orchestrated by those who failed in their bid for the contract.
The NPA, Dredging International Services Nigeria and Dredging Atlantic Limited (DAL) are currently embroiled in a dispute over the Warri Channel dredging contract.
Dredging International Services Nigeria is a Cyprus-based subsidiary of the Belgian petroleum infrastructure and dredging group DEME. It was sentenced last year May in Switzerland and asked to a fine of Sfr one million (US$ 1.03 million) and repay Sfr 36 million (US$ 37.3 million) of illegal profit. The status of the dredging company vis a vis the conviction is the bone of contention between the NPA and the two bidding companies.
However, throwing light on the award of the dredging contract, Hadiza said: “We had a petition that was submitted to us that a company that was prequalified for the Warri Channel dredging contract has been convicted in respect of the fact that we are aware of the convicted.
In fact when the company that happened to be our partner in our joint venture was convicted, we submitted the conviction documents to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Anthony General of the Federation (AGF), drawing attention to the fact that the company has been convicted, the facts of the conviction and the persons that monies were paid to”
“The conviction is attributable to payments that were made to certain individuals within the NPA, Federal Ministry of Transportation and other agencies to facilitate payment of invoices from NPA. The deposition that they provided to the Swiss court was that the NPA refused to pay them in joint venture invoices, demanding for payments. They also listed payments that were made to militants in the Niger Delta to enable them have access to their dredging works.”
According to her, NPA did the needful in the build-up to awarding the contract. She explained that, “a year after a subsidiary of the company bided for works with the NPA, in the course of the technical process we had the petition that they were so convicted. They had submitted to us a sworn affidavit that they were not the company convicted.
We proceeded with our technical processes and made submissions to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). BPP directed us to do an independent investigation of the affidavit they gave. We hired a law firm which did the investigation and made submission that the company is a subsidiary of the company that was convicted. We were made to understand that the company that bided for the contract has a different legal personality and a different legal profile. The directors of the company during the conviction are not the same directors of this company.”
She explained that in the previous contract, “the company had made claims of the work that they did not do, so we cancelled the contract.
They were engaged through a process that was not in compliance with the BPP Act. There is a letter from the Director General of the BPP that the company’s appointment was a gross violation of the BPP Act, that the president was misadvised and should never have signed-off of the joint venture with the company”.