The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has reacted to the Auditor-General for the Federation’s query on financial status of the agency and absolved itself of blame at the investigative hearing by Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Monday in Abuja.
The Office of the Auditor General for the Federation had in the 2019 audit report, alleged that NPA did not collect remittances from terminal operators which amounted to $852 million and N1.8 billion.
The report had been a subject of Committee hearing in the Managing Director’s absentia after he failed to honour invitations by Senator Aliyu Wadada-led Committee severally.
Reacting to the report, the Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello Koko sum of money labelled as mission in the Auditor-General’s report were
accumulation of un-remittances from private port operators who came on board through 2006 concession agreement.
He said the concessions were put together in 2006 by the Federal Government, which preceded his tenure and had collapsed, hence, it became absolutely impossible to recover the funds.
“The $852 milliion and N1.8 billion unremitted by private operators to NPA are largely caused by faulty concession agreements the Federal Government signed with them in 2006 when the ports were concessioned.
“The concession agreements were faulty in the sense that some of the operators are facing encumbrances in different ways to cover the space concessioned for them which also encumbered them to remit what are due from them to NPA.
“The encumbrances in question range from the inaccessibility of some portions of areas leased by the concessionaire to communal encumbrance and volume charges or tonnage amounts.”.
According to Koko, the NPA’s in-house assessment, $504 million out of $852 million was an accumulation of unremitted levies due to encumbrances.
He explained that the sums of $232.2 million and N269.4 million from the N1.8billiion have been recovered from the terminal operators.
On the second query of outstanding debts of $67.45 million and N32.266 billion, the NPA boss told the committee members that the debts were not incurred by NPA but the defunct Nigerian Shippers Councils, whose debtors are no longer traceable; hence, they were seeking collaboration with the parliament to write them off so that they would not be talking about them from time to time.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aliyu Wadada, told the NPA boss to furnish the committee with their financial statement and way out for government to write off the legacy debts