Faced with accusations of awarding a major dredging contract to a company convicted of fraud, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has stated that although the company that won the contract is related to the convicted, they are only co-subsidiaries but have different legal personalities.
The alleged fraud revolves around the contract for the dredging of Escravos Bar in Warri which was awarded to Messers Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited.
NPA’s managing director, Hadiza Bala Usman, in a statement, said apart from being guided by provisions of the Procurement Act in all its procurement processes, the dredging and procurements by the Authority are subject to the supervision/approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). She said the authority received the necessary approvals before going ahead with the award of the contract for the dredging of Warri Channel.
According to her, when the Authority received the petition alleging that Dredging International Nigeria Limited had been convicted by a law court in Switzerland, it sought the legal counsel of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and requested an investigation of the petition by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
‘’In addition to this, although Dredging International Nigeria Limited provided us with a sworn affidavit in support of claims that they were different from the company that was so convicted, the Authority engaged a legal practitioner, who embarked on an independent investigation of the petition and the claims of the company.
‘’These investigation revealed that allegations that Messers Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited had been convicted in a law court in Switzerland for corrupt practices involving some officials of the Nigerian government including the NPA were incorrect. The Company so convicted in the Swiss Court is Dredging Cyprus Ltd which is a co-subsidiary of DISN.
“The two companies have different legal personalities as so recognized by the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, 2004. The conviction of a subsidiary company indeed is not the conviction of all companies within a group of companies.
“In addition, none of the directors so convicted for complicity by the court in Switzerland is on the board of Dredging International Nigeria Limited. The result of these investigations were made available to the BPP.
‘’Nevertheless, the BPP itself set up an independent investigation of the petition and came to the conclusion that the company was eligible to participate in the bidding process,’’ it said.
She added that ‘’the company that has continued to promote this extensive blackmail of the NPA is part of the consortium whose contract was terminated for having claimed to execute works of $34.6million in the Calabar Channel out of which $12.5million has been paid without evidence of work done.
The Nigerian Government is currently in court with this consortium seeking for the refund of the Authority’s $12.5 million for work claimed to have been done without evidence.’’