Fresh trouble for the management of Lagos Channel Management, the Bonny Channel Company, and the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited as the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies ( SSASGOC) has supported the decision of the Nigerian Senate to probe the activities of the Joint Venture Enterprises of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The NPA has entered a joint venture agreements with the Lagos Channel Management, the Bonny Channel Company, and the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited to engage in dredging and maintenance of the channel leading to the various seaports across the country.
But, the Senate on Wednesday raised a motion on the floor to began a probe into the $3bn allegedly spent by the Nigerian Ports Authority on the dredging of Lagos, Bonny and Calabar water channels.
The lawmakers mandated the Senate Committee on Marine Transport to investigate the “dredging activities, books and records” of the NPA and the three contracted companies, in each of which the authority holds 60 per cent stake.
In a chat with journalists, the Deputy President-General of SSASGOC, Com. Umar Jimoh welcome the probe stating that dredging of the Calabar Channel was not a good business for the country.
Umar who is the immediate past president of SSASGOC, Maritime branch said what the Calabar port needed was only maintenance dredging and not capital dredging because of siltation that do come in.
He said, “On Calabar Channel dredging, if you are dredging a place there must be need why you under go such. We should know that Calabar Channel is riverine in nature and it use to have siltation and what we need is maintenance and not capital dredging giving the type of vessels that call at the port. You cannot dredge a channel to 10m when a vessel of 4 meter is enough. Why do you do that?”
Umar queried economic value of dredging Calabar channel to 10m when all it needed to receive vessels is 4meters.
“What is the economic value to dredge to 10m? I am in operations and what the vessels that call there need Is 4m. So what we need is maintenance and not capital dredging. That is how they are misappropriating our funds. I don’t know who give them the advice to start the project,” he said.
Recall that Umar had in June challenged three former top officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to immediately come out to defend themselves against the multi-million dollars bribery allegations.
The ex-top officials involved are the Former Managing Director of NPA,
Adebayo Sarumi; a former Managing Director of NPA’s Eastern Ports, Felix Ovbude; a former Executive Director of Finance at the NPA, Abba Murtala Mohammed.
Also indicted are Daniel Afam-Obi, a former executive assistant to Sullivan Akachukwu Nwankpo who was ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s special adviser on technical matters.
They were accused of allegedly collecting more than $2.7 million from a Switzerland dredging company, Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd.
The Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd is part of a consortium which formed The Bonny Channel Management Limited that in turn entered into a joint venture arrangement with the NPA to form The Bonny Channel Company saddled with “creating and maintaining a safe navigational passage for all marine users to and in the Eastern Ports of Bonny Island, Onne, Okrika and Port-Harcourt”.
The NPA holds 60 per cent equity in the JVC while The Bonny Channel Management Limited consortium (comprising Dredging International, Vinci, IPEM and Dapesa Limited) has the remaining 40 per cent.
The trio of Sarumi, Ovbude and Mohammed were accused of allegedly collectively received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the company while Mr. Afam-Obi was said to have been paid $157,000 for unknown reasons.