The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has set up an 11-man investigative panel to probe alleged misappropriation of over N165 billion by the suspended Hadiza Bala-Usman-led management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Bala-Usman was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday following allegations of non-remittance of N165 billion surplus revenue to the coffers of government, which she vehemently denied.
The 11-man committee inaugurated on Monday has the Director (Maritime Services), Mallam Suleiman Auwalu, as chairperson while the Deputy Director (Legal services), Mr. Gabriel Fan, will serve as its Secretary.
It would be recalled that the Minister had in a letter dated 4th March 2021, addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, requested for an investigation to be carried out to ascertain the financial records of NPA.
Amaechi, in the letter titled ‘Remittance of Operating Surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account by the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2016-Date’ drew the attention of the President to what he believed was a violation of the public finance rules.
The letter read: “It has been observed from the records submitted by the Budget Office of the Federation that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the Nigerian Ports Authority from the year 2016 to 2020 has been far short of the amount due for actual remittance.
“In view of the above, I wish to suggest that the financial account of the activities of NPA be investigated for the period 2016-2020 to ascertain the true financial position and the outstanding unremitted balance of one hundred and sixty-five billion, three hundred and twenty million, nine hundred and sixty-two thousand, six hundred and Ninety-seven naira only (N165, 320, 962, 697).”
The President on March 17 granted the minister’s request in his minutes on the letter which reads: “HMT (Honourable Minister of Transportation), your above prayer is approved,”
The President’s approval for the investigation of the alleged financial shortfall in the NPA was conveyed through a letter signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.