The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, on Friday gave reasons for terminating its boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with Intels Nigeria Limited, a firm largely owned by former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
The NPA made its stance in a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Abdullahi Goje.
Mr. Goje confirmed PREMIUM TIMES’ earlier report that the NPA relied on advice from the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to terminate Intels’ contract.
Many Nigerians have accused the NPA of playing politics as Mr. Abubakar is seen as the most likely person to contest against President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
The statement, however, explained that the NPA sought the AGF’s advice after trying in vain for more than one year to get Intels to comply with the federal government’s directive on the Treasury Single Account, TSA.
“The first such correspondence was through a letter written by the former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Olumide Oduntan on June 28, 2016, directing the company to pay all revenues collected on behalf of the NPA into the TSA sub account at the CBN.
“All further attempts by the Authority to get the company obey this directive was met with various excuses until the Authority wrote to seek the AGF’s legal advice on how to proceed with the NPA/Intels relationship in a letter dated May 31, 2017.
“The legal advice contained in a September 27, 2017 letter addressed to the Managing Director of the Authority, Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) expressly stated as follows:
‘For the avoidance of doubt, the agreement for the monitoring and supervision of pilotage districts in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria on terms inter alia that permits Intels to receive revenue generated in each pilotage district from service boat operations in consideration for 28 per cent of total revenue as commission to Intels is void, being a contract ex facie illegal as formed for permitting Intels to receive federal government revenue contrary to the express provisions of Sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which mandates that such revenue must be paid into the Federation Account/Consolidated Revenue Fund.”
The statement further read, “In the premise of the above, the conflict between the agreement and the TSA policy presents a force majeure event under the agreement, and NPA should forthwith commence the process of issuing the relevant notices to Intels exiting the agreement which indeed was void.”
The statement said as a responsible agency of the federal government, the NPA had no option but to act as advised.
“The Authority has taken note of threats by Intels to withdraw its investment plans in Nigeria and must point that business thrives in favour of everyone involved only when the laws of the country of operation are adhered to.
“No organisation is above the Nigerian constitution and it is only when all corporate entities obey the laws of the country that everyone benefits. There must be a level playing field for all players in the sector, and this is the commitment of the Authority.”
The NPA, however, said it respects the right of Intels and all other corporate entities in Nigeria to explore opportunities presented by the courts to enforce their right. The agency said it is confident of the correctness of the step that it has taken adding that its board and management is committed to serving the best interest of Nigeria at all times, and this is what has happened in the case under discussion.
The NPAs explanation comes days after Intels kicked against the termination of its Pilotage Agency Agreement by the NPA describing the action as “preposterous” and highly injurious to Nigeria.