The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman has absolved the Authority of any wrongdoing in the recent termination its boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with the Intels, stressing that management adhered strictly to the constitution.
Hadiza highlighted this at the weekend highlighting that she ensured that NPA did not take any action, until she had the informed legal advice of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), in writing.
Reacting to alleged threats of a tortuous legal battle from the Intels, Hadiza said she actually held back for more than one year of genuine attempts to get Intels to comply with Federal Government’s directive on the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“We must inform our stakeholders and the general public that the Authority relied on the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, in arriving at the decision to terminate the contract.
“This legal advice was sought after more than one year of attempts 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 advise 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% 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.
“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 ab initio”, Hadiza stated further, explaining that as a responsible agency of the Federal Government, the Authority, therefore proceeded to act as advised, which was to terminate the contract forthwith.
“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.
“However, the Authority respects the right of Intels and all other corporate entities in Nigeria to explore opportunities presented by the courts to enforce their rights in as much as the Authority is confident of the correctness of the step that it has taken.
“The board and management of the NPA is committed to serving the best interest of Nigeria at all times and this is what has happened in the case under discussion”, the Managing Director concluded.