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Reps summon agric, blue economy ministers, allege fraudulent concessions

The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Blue Economy Gboyega Oyetola, and his transportation counterpart, Saidu Alkali, over alleged fraudulent concession of some ports’ infrastructure.

Also invited for questioning are the Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority, Mohammed Koko, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise, Mamman Ahmadu as well as the Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Micheal Ohiani, among others.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Ibrahim Hamisu (APC, Kaduna) issued the summons at a meeting with the seaport terminal operators in Abuja on Tuesday.

The lawmaker lamented the absence of the top government officials to explain their role in the concession of the seaport terminals.

The committee members expressed their displeasure at the shady manner the concessioning process was managed which had let the five companies operate for five years without renewal, thereby, leading to a huge loss of revenue to the Federal Government.

He said, “They (ministers) must appear before the committee on March 12. We also want to assure that this committee would work very hard to make sure that this issue is over and to do that, you are to furnish the Committee with all the relevant documents through the secretariat by Friday.”

He told the port stakeholders that they were invited to the meeting to “discuss how best to address this prolonged renewal process because of the need to attract investments into our critical port infrastructure which is one of the major focuses of this administration.

“From the brief we received from affected parties and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies involved in the process. We understand that as of today, what is outstanding in concluding the process that started over five years ago is the execution of the negotiated supplementary agreements for the respective terminals.

“That is why we invited all stakeholders to see how we can work together to quickly address this concern in national interest,” Hamisu said.

Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Hamisu argued that there was a need to unravel why the companies listed were still operating without renewal of the concession agreement.

“Some seaport terminals were given out on concession and five of them have expired. Some are from Lagos and some are from Port Harcourt. They were trying to see that their approvals were renewed in 2021.

“Somehow, this renewal was not granted to them, but they have been operating since then. So we deemed it fit to cross-check and find out what the problem is.

“We decided to invite them, and all the stakeholders like the Ministry of Blue Economy, ICRC, BPP, and the Ministry of Transportation. After inviting them here today, unfortunately, only the seaport terminal operators are here. We have discussed with them and they have one week within which the Minister of Blue Economy, MD NPA, BPP and ICRC should appear before this committee.

“They are to appear on March 12 by 10 AM so that we can discuss with them, see where the problem is and take action so that we can bring a lasting solution to the problem.

“The names of the affected seaport terminals are Port and Cargo Terminal, ENL Consortium Terminal C, ENL Consortium Terminal D, Josepdam Terminal and AMS Terminal. There are the five terminals whose concession period has expired and they have been operating illegally from 2021 to date and we want to investigate and see what the problem is and whoever is in charge of this, we will deal with him,” he warned.

Earlier in his ruling, the chairman insisted that the Ministers of Blue Economy and Transport, others must appear before it next Tuesday.


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