February 29, 2024

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Reps call for EFCC probe of Hadiza Bala Usman

The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, over alleged N165 billion theft under her management.

In a statement issued on Monday by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, the caucus said such a huge economic crime against the nation should not be left to an administrative panel of enquiry to handle but committed to an anti-graft agency for an independent investigation.

The caucus described as “another sad commentary on the brimming corruption of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at a time the country was writhing in the throes of worsening insecurity”.

The opposition lawmakers demanded a “more drastic step by anti-graft agencies to recover the stolen funds as well as prosecute all involved in the looting spree.”

The statement read in part, “Our caucus holds that the mere suspension of the indicted Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, and the resort to an administrative panel of enquiry even after the report by the supervising Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, exposed an unremitted and possibly diverted operating surplus of N165bn, amounts to romancing and perfuming corruption by the APC-led Federal Government.

“The minority caucus also believes that the recourse to an administrative instead of a full-scale criminal investigation can only serve as decoy to shield some other APC government officials involved in the looting spree at NPA and other affiliated agencies in the transport sector.

“This is because, apart from the unremitted N165bn cited by the minister, other documents and reports from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had also uncovered several sleaze, including unremitted deduction to Federal Inland Revenue Service amounting to N3,667,750,470, $148,845,745.04, €4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14.

“This is in addition to an audit query of N15.18bn allegedly stolen through inflated Corporate Social Responsibility projects/programmes under the watch of the suspended NPA Managing Director.

“As representatives of the suffering people of Nigeria, our caucus is particularly very worried that such monumental lootings are going on at a time terrorists, bandits, unknown gunmen and criminal militias are reigning supreme across the length and breadth of the country, and life has consequently become the cheapest article in the country.

“We imagine that such resources, if channelled to the security sector and well managed, would have made a world of difference in addressing the problem of insecurity in the country.”

In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded the immediate sacking, investigation and prosecution of Amaechi and Usman over the alleged looting of N165 billion in the agency.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP noted that “the foul stench of corruption oozing out of the NPA, NDDC and other agencies of government in the last six years has shown that our MDAs have become the cash cows and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of greedy leaders of the APC and their cronies in government in their unbridled looting of our patrimony under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch.”

The main opposition party added: “The fact that it took the minister a clear six years (2016 to 2021) to query the NPA’s Managing Director over the alleged looting of N165 billion unremitted operating surplus of the agency, which is under his purview, is suspect and raises public belief that he (Amaechi) only acted apparently to shield himself after indicting audit documents had already been exposed.”

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