Per Second News
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, has been accused of corruption and abuse of office, in what could potentially be the latest scandal to rock the NPA.
Investigation shows how spending under Hadiza Usman keeps rising even as the NPA flunks its audit.
The fraud which runs into billions of naira was uncovered by an ‘audit query’ of activities of the NPA between 2016 and 2018, Per Second News gathered.
The Auditor General’s Office concluded, however, that the NPA’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.
The office of the Auditor General of the Federation also came hard on the NPA boss for gross “betrayal of public trust” as demonstrated by her flagrant abuse for due process in the way and manner she runs the agency, citing documents obtained by this newspaper.
Highlights of the damning report from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation include her refusal to remit VAT deductions running into billions of naira and in foreign currency denomination to the Federal Inland Revenue Service. For instance, the query highlighted unremitted deduction to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to include N3,667,750,470. $148,845,745.04, Euro 4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14.
The NPA under Hadiza Bala Usman was also accused of” excessive increase in administrative operational expenses” extra budgetary expenditures on hotel accommodation and under disclosure of expenditures on hotel expenses”, Corporate social Responsibility Projects, diversion of funds through the Nigerian Port Today, to the sponsorship of National Assembly Programmes, amongst other. The queries which covered over 100 issues, also asked Hadiza Bala Usman to make various refunds to government, especially in instances where such expenditures could not be justified.
Investigation also uncovers that the Audit team reviewed NPA’s policy on implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility Projects/ Programmes and discovered that records relating to CSR fell short of the level of compliance with the Public procurement Act 2007. In 2016, the NPA spent N286,412,628.00 on CSR while in 2017, the figure rose to N2,496,248,775.00 and N5billion in 2018. The Audit team found out that “beneficiary needs were not properly assessed or identified before the implementation of CSR projects/ programmes.
The Audit team observed to its chagrin that there was no evidence of compliance with public procurement Act and that most of the CSR projects/ programmes were inflated and accordingly ordered that the “sum of N5.18 billion should be recovered from the Managing Director of NPA, being the value of, inflated amount under her watch. The committee also observed that delivery of CSR items were not accompanied with delivery letters and that in most cases, there was no evidence of actual items delivered and who signed for them.
Per Second News gathered that the NPA boss and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the government and drive the NPA’s budgets ever higher, regardless of port necessity. The NPA has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to the National Assembly—representing billions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions—knowing that the National Assembly would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the Authority.
The fraud works like this, for instance while a contract with Ref. HQ/GM/PROC/CON/C.11/PBT/16/322 dated 16/10/17 was awarded in favour of Messrs Ecomaxx Engineering Projects Ltd for the supply of items to the old people’s Home Yaba, Lagos to the tune of N19,760,460.00 which was paid vide invoice no HQ/CS/0711 dated 01/06/17 there was no documentary evidence that the items were indeed delivered to the Home. In the same vein, the contract for supply of items to Yaba children’s orphanage followed the same pattern. For instance, whilst a contract awarded in favour of Trans-secure Ltd was N19,467,000.00 the survey conducted by the audit team found out that N6,520,500.00 was the actual market price.