The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority has finally been served a letter, three days after news of her suspension broke in the media.

The news of Ms Usman’s suspension was first reported on Thursday evening, with the NPA MD saying she had not been communicated.

Transportation Ministry’s officials first told PREMIUM TIMES late Friday that the official was served her letter on Friday afternoon through the NPA liaison office in Abuja.

When contacted Saturday, Ms Usman confirmed the letter was scanned to her by her agency’s Abuja office on Friday evening.

In the letter dated May 6, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Magdalene Ajani, wrote: “Consequent upon the approval of Mr President to constitute an Administrative Panel of Inquiry on the Management of Nigerian Ports Authority, I am to convey the approval of the Honourable Minister to request you to step aside as the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority.”

“In view of the above, you are required to hand over to Mohammad Koko (Executive Director, Finance & Accounts) with immediate effect.

“Please, accept the warm regards of the Honourable Minister.”

Mr Amaechi had written to President Buhari on March 4 saying the yearly remittances of operating surpluses by the NPA from 2016 to 2020 was “far short of the amount due for actual remittance.”

In the letter, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the minister said within the stipulated years, the NPA failed to remit N165 billion (N165, 320, 962, 697) to the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. He thereafter suggested that the financial account of the NPA be audited.

Mr Buhari approved his request after which the Ministry of Transportation wrote to the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation on April 6 asking it to nominate a firm or grant the ministry approval to appoint one to audit the NPA.

Ten days later, April 16, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, notified the transportation ministry that two audit firms — Messrs Muhtari Dangana & Co (Chartered Accountants) and SIAO Chartered Accountants — appointed by the NPA board, already audited the maritime agency.

In the letter, the auditor-general added that the said audit firms had indeed audited and published the accounts of NPA in 2016, 2017, and 2018 financial years and that the 2019 audit was ongoing.

The Auditor-General added that his own office also conducted periodic checks on the agency and released appropriate reports on the exercises.

Quoting the NPA law and the Nigerian constitution, the Auditor-General concluded that since reputable professional audit firms were already engaged by the NPA Board in line with the agency’s enabling act, there was no justification for the ministry to conduct a parallel audit exercise.

But after the auditor-general opposed another probe of the finances of the agency, Mr Amaechi returned to Mr Buhari with another proposal.

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In the May 5 letter, which sources said he personally took to the President, Mr Amaechi wrote as follows:

“Recall the series of memoranda and the attendant approvals which the management of NPA has refused to implement.”

“One of the memoranda included the insubordination of the management of NPA. The management of the parastatal and some financial expenditures would require a review.”

PRAYER

The Ministry, therefore, requests the President to approve the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services, with the Deputy Director, Legal, as the Secretary. Other members will be appointed by the Minister.
That the Managing Director of NPA should step aside until the outcome of the panel has been submitted to the President.
That Mr Mohammed Koko be appointed in her stead.
That the secretariat of the Presidency be directed to convey this approval to the Minister for Transport, to carry out the directive pending when the office of the Chief of Staff to the President will convey the approval.”

Mr Buhari okayed the above requests by simply writing on Mr Amaechi’s memo: “Your above prayers 1,2,3 and 4 approved.”

Ms Usman has denied involvement in any financial impropriety at the agency. She also said the NPA did not under-remit revenues to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

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