Thursday, 30 August 2018

$44.8m Corruption Allegation Rocks NPA Over Delta Ports Dredging Contract

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is currently in the eyes of the storm over allegation of corruption trailing its award of a contract worth $44.86 million for the dredging of the Delta Ports, Warri.

NPA spokesperson, Isa Suwaid said that the organisation was still working “on an appropriate response” to the allegations.

He said, “Yes, we are going to make our position known soon. I know the management is working on it. You can get back to me.”

A non-governmental organization, Cadrell Advocacy Centre recently accused some NPA officials of taking bribe in the award of the controversial dredging contract.

The group, in a notice published recently, alleged that the Delta Ports dredging contract was fraudulently awarded to Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited (DISNL) – a company it claimed was convicted by a Swiss court in 2012 for bribery.

Cardell states: “We wrote a letter dated March 6, 2018 to the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, drawing his attention to the fact that DISL, to whom they were about to award a contract, was convicted by a Swiss court of competent jurisdiction. Awarding the contract to the company would be contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

“Following our petition, we received a call in April 2018 from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); they were investigation the matter. On visiting the EFCC office, we made statements and submitted documents and were told that the EFCC would get back to us if there was need.”

The group further stated that it also presented a position paper to a House of Representatives Joint Committee in May 2018, urging the lawmakers to request NPA to reverse the award of the contract on the grounds that DISL is a sister company of a convicted company, Dredging International Services Cyprus (DISC).

It said DISC was alleged to have been involved in a bribe for contract scandal with some officials of the NPA to the tune of $20 million. It was convicted and fined one million Swiss francs by the court for bribing Nigerian officials.

“Sadly, while pending the outcome of the EFCC and the House Joint Committee’s investigation, DISL mobilized men, equipment and materials to the site in July 2018, having been paid a 15% mobilization fee by the NPA.

“Till date, this convicted company is believed to have won jobs worth at least N717 billion from the NPA. It still maintains offices in Nigeria and continually enjoys government patronage from the same NPA whose officials are alleged to be beneficiaries of the bribe for which it was convicted.

“Curiously, the company still maintains the Bonny Channel Dredging contract in Nigeria for which it was convicted in Switzerland,” the statement read.

It added that the Bonny Channel Company Limited, (BCCL), a special purpose vehicle established by the NPA and DISC for the execution of the Bonny Chanel dredging, had NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Usman as its Chairman and Bert Willie, the Managing of DISC, as its Managing Director.

The group alleged that the existing relationship, which was a conflict of interest, was not disclosed to other bidders for the job.

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