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FG raises panel to probe NPA, Reps want job for EFCC

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Rotimi Amaechi

•PDP desires Amaechi, Usman sacked over alleged graft
Five days after the suspension of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has inaugurated an 11-member Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the organisation’s activities from 2016 till date.

He had last Thursday got the nod of President Muhammadu Buhari to raise the panel, leading to Usman being ordered to step aside till investigation is concluded.

While inaugurating the committee, yesterday, in Abuja, Amaechi charged the members on diligence, informing them that he had not given a time frame for their report, as the “findings will be forwarded to the President after which it would be made public.”

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He said: “I am not giving them any time frame because of the amount of revenue and procurement that may have come in since 2016. So, for the committee to do a thorough job, we will not give them specific time frame, but they need to speedily look at those issues and come to a reasonable conclusion.”

The panel, made up of five members from the ministry and six from the office of the Head of Service, is chaired by the Director of Maritime Services, Suleiman Auwalu.

Its terms of reference, minister noted, include examining and investigating the administrative policies and strategies adopted by Usman and assess compliance with extant laws and rules during the period under review.

He and the Minister of State, Gbemisola Saraki, regretted the dust the issue had generated in certain quarters, clarifying that the probe was part of the ministry’s mandate to oversee the agencies under it.

Responding, the committee chair, Auwalu, pledged to discharge their duties diligently.
SIMILARLY, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Usman for the alleged N165 billion theft.

In a statement by Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu (PDP Delta), the group insisted that “such huge economic crime against the nation should not be left to an administrative panel of enquiry to handle.”

The caucus maintained that it behoved the anti-graft agency to prosecute the axed chief executive if found wanting, adding that the development was “another sad commentary on the brimming corruption in the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at a time the country was writhing in the throes of worsening insecurity.”

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ALSO yesterday, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 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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