The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has called for the involvement of the Economic and other Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the investigation of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s alleged N165bn non-remittance and other allegations.
In a statement signed by the House Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, on Monday, the lawmakers insisted that a huge economic crime against the nation should not be left to an administrative panel of enquiry, but committed to an anti-graft agency like the EFCC for an independent investigation.
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The lawmakers stated that they were concerned that the alleged NPA looting was committed to an administrative panel, saying that political manipulations and partisan influences had taken precedence over what should have been a system-wide investigation into a monumental fraud.
“Our Caucus holds that the mere suspension of the indicted Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, and the resort to an administrative panel of enquiry even after the report by the Supervising Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, exposed an unremitted and possibly diverted operating surplus of N165 billion, amounts to romancing and perfuming corruption by the APC-led Federal Government.
“The Minority Caucus also believes that the recourse to an administrative instead of a full-scale criminal investigation can only serve as a decoy to shield some other APC government officials involved in the looting spree at NPA and other affiliated agencies in the transport sector.
“This is because, apart from the unremitted N165 billion cited by the Minister, other documents and reports from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had also uncovered several sleazes, including unremitted deduction to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) amounting to N3,667,750,470. $148,845,745.04, Euro 4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14,” the caucus stated.
It, therefore, asked the EFCC to immediately “take in the indicted Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, and commence a system-wide investigation with a view to prosecuting her, if found wanting”.
Hadiza Bala Usman, was suspended as part of moves to allow an independent audit of the accounts and remittance of the agency.
According to details of a letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari by the transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the NPA from 2016 to 2020 was “far short of the amount due for actual remittance.”
In the letter, dated March 4, 2021, Amaechi said within the stipulated years, the NPA recorded an outstanding unremitted balance of N165 billion (N165, 320, 962, 697).
Amaechi thereafter suggested that the financial account of the NPA be investigated and audited.