OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate an alleged illegal secret bank account opened by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Unity Bank for the collection of revenue from vessels as revealed by a whistle blower.
The House on Thursday also mandated its Committees on Finance and Ports and Harbours to investigate the allegations and determine if the NPA or any of its personnel committed any infractions as alleged.
The resolution was taken at plenary sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Kolawole Lawal (APC, Ogun).
Leading debate on the motion, Mr. Lawal explained that the controversies generated by the whistle-blower (name withheld) who claimed that he duly informed, in confidence, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) about a hidden or secret account operated by the NPA in line with the Whistleblower Policy of the federal government.
According to him, “the whistle-blower alleged that the information he gave to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) led to the exposure of an illegal secret account in Unity Bank, Lagos Branch purportedly operated by NPA where the sum of $1,034, 516,000 (one billion, thirty four million, five hundred and fifteen thousand dollars) was kept contrary to financial regulations and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“The whistle blower also alleged that the information was verified and approved by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as qualified for financial reward as prescribed under the Whistle-blower policy of the Federal Government and that subsequently based on the advice of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), a written agreement was executed between the representative of the whistle-blower (Mamman Maiyaki 85 Co, Legal Practitioners) and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), as evidence of the transaction”.
Lawal noted that: “Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in response to these allegations admitted it operates an account With Unity Bank PLC Lagos Branch (account number 0013670344) with a total sum of $1,057,772,03 as of 4th December 2019 but denied the sum of $1,034,515,000.03 as alleged by the whistle-blower.
He observed that “the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) further admitted that the bank account mentioned by them, i.e. 0013670344, had not been operated since 27th August, 2010 due to Garnishee Order given by the Federal High Court Which was subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court eight years , after in the case of Aminu Ibrahim & Co VS Nigerian Ports Authority (Suit No. FHC/L/CS/ 582/ 2010)”.
The legislator also “observed that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) claimed that upon the determination of the case at the Supreme Court, the judgement creditors continued with Garnishee process which resulted in the payment of the sum of $1,057,772,03 from the account mentioned by them to the judgment Creditor on the 4th December 2019 in line with the Garnishee Order absolute.
Meanwhile, Lawal disclosed that the particulars of the allegations by whistle-blower have been contradicted by the NPA but since public fund is involved in the matter, it is imperative that the House intervene in the matter with a view to establishing the true situation in public interest.
He also expressed concerns that the Authority may be operating similar accounts in similar situation.
“I wonder if NPA or any Federal Government MDA have authority to pay any public money to any judgment creditor in satisfaction of a judgment debt without obtaining the prior approval of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) in view of the clear provisions of Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act CAP 56 LFN 2004 which provides that the prior consent of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) should be obtained before any MDA can transfer public funds to a judgement creditor in satisfaction of a judgement debt.
“I also wonder if the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) or any Federal Government MDA have authority to keep revenue generated in any commercial bank in view of clear provisions of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which provides all revenue collected by the Government of the Federation shall be paid into a Special Account called the Federation Account”.
The motion was adopted when Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put the question.