Escravos Contract Award : We Were Guided By Procurement Act In All Processes – NPA

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As against  the allegation of corruption in the award of contract for the dredging of Escravos Bar in Warri, trending in the media, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that it was guided by provisions of the Procurement Act in all its procurement processes in the award of the said contract adding that it had not gone against the provisions of the law in the Warri contract or any other contract.

A statement signed by the Assistant General Manager Corporate Communications of the NPA, Mr. Isah Suwaid, observed that all procurements by the Authority was subject to the supervision/approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and that it received the necessary approvals before going ahead with the award of the contract for the dredging Warri Channel.

It further noted that all arithmetic computations so done by the Authority were in line with the PPA which so permits for the procuring entity to do such and consequent documentations of the computations were submitted to BPP for no objection which was obliged.

“The Authority, upon receipt of the petition alleging that Dredging International Nigeria Limited had been convicted by a law court in Switzerland, sought the legal counsel of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and requested an investigation of the petition by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“In addition to this, although Dredging International Nigeria Limited provided us with a sworn affidavit in support of claims that they were different from the company that was so convicted, the Authority engaged a legal practitioner who embarked on an independent investigation of the petition and the claims of the company.

“These investigations revealed that allegations that Messers Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited had been convicted in a law court in Switzerland for corrupt practices involving some officials of the Nigerian government including the NPA were incorrect. The Company so convicted in the Swiss Court is Dredging Cyprus Ltd which is a co-subsidiary of DISN. The two companies have different legal personalities as so recognized by the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2004. The conviction of a subsidiary company indeed is not the conviction of all companies within a group of companies. In addition, none of the directors so convicted for complicity by the court in Switzerland is on the board of Dredging International Nigeria Limited. The result of these investigations was made available to the BPP.

“Nevertheless, the BPP itself set up an independent investigation of the petition and came to the conclusion that the company was eligible to participate in the bidding process”, the statement partly read.

It however added that, “There have also been allegations of conflict of interest coming from the fact the Managing Director of the NPA alongside some of the Directors are on the board of Bonny Channel Company (BCC), a joint venture set up as a long term structure for the continuous management, maintenance and provision of navigational aids of the Bonny channel with some Directors of the awardee.  But these directors are on the board of the BBC on the strength of their current appointment. The NPA is chair of this JV by virtue of its ownership of 60 percent shareholding in the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and our directors do not have any private interests in the Company”.

The statement disclosed that the company that had continued to promote this extensive blackmail of the NPA was part of the consortium whose contract was terminated for having claimed to execute works of $34.6mill in the Calabar Channel out of which $12.5mill has been paid without evidence of work done noting that the Nigerian Government was currently in court with this consortium seeking for the refund of the Authority’s $12.5mill for work claimed to have been done without evidence.

“The Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority therefore urges the good people of Nigeria to disregard this attempt to drag it in the mud by an organization, which is surely still dazed by our audacity to terminate the Calabar Channel contract and take them to court for the refund of monies collected.

“The Authority reiterate its commitment to transparent operations for the ultimate benefit of the Nigerian economy and thank all Nigerians for their support”, the statement said.

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