MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman

The Nigerian Ports Authority has said that the termination of the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement contract with INTELS Nigeria Limited was in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution and also followed due process.

General Manager of the authority in charge of Corporate and Strategic Communications, Abdullahi Goje, who made the clarification at the weekend, spoke against the background of stakeholders’ reactions to the contract termination, especially reports by INTELS that it would fight the termination of the 10-year contract.

According to the GM, NPA is compelled to speak on the issue in reaction to questions raised by the general public on the threat by INTELS to fight the recent termination its boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement.

“To start with, 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, Mallam Abubakar Malami SAN, 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”

It was gathered that the first of such correspondences with INTELS was through a letter written by the former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Olumide Oduntan dated June 28, 2016 directing the company to pay all revenues collected on behalf of the NPA into the TSA sub account at the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN.

According to the GM, All further attempts by NPA to get the company obey this directive was met with various excuses until it wrote to seek legal advice from the AGF on how to proceed with the NPA/INTELS contract relationship in a letter dated May 31, 2017.

He said: “The legal advice from the AGF, which was contained in a letter dated September 27, 2017 addressed to the Managing Director of NPA, Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman,  by the AGF, reads in part: “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’s revenue contrary to the provisions of sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)”.

“This section of the constitution mandates that such revenue must be paid into the Federation Account/Consolidated Revenue Fund”.

“In view of the above, the conflict in 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 from the beginning.”

“As a responsible agency of the Federal Government, the authority, therefore proceeded to act as advised, which is to terminate the contract forthwith”.

The GM also said that 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.

He also noted that NPA 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 validity of the step that it has taken.

Goje, who assumed duty penultimate week, however pledged that the board and management of the NPA is committed to serving the best interest of Nigeria at all times and also enjoined all relevant stakeholders to always play by the rules.