Hadiza Usman, former Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), has fired her reply to the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who accused her of peddling falsehoods about him in her memoirs. She said the former minister’s speech was characterised by “exaggerations, manipulation of the truth and outright lies.”
Ms Usman had written about her experiences as the head of the NPA under Mr Amaechi and how he allegedly orchestrated her removal.
In the book launched in April, she claimed Mr Amaechi wanted her removed at all costs because of personal grudges, including her refusal to lavish him with favours including birthday presents.
Responding to the allegations for the first time since the book was launched, Mr Amaechi said recently at an event that Ms Usman’s book was filled with falsehood so much he contemplated a reply.
Amaechi said Ms Usman’s removal was endorsed by former President Muhammadu Buhari because the panel found her guilty.
He said part of the charges against her was the approval of contracts up to N2.8 billion without appropriation even though her approval limit was N2.5 million.
According to him, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) later found that despite the lack of appropriation, the contract was inflated by N58 million which she was asked to refund.
Amaechi also accused her of granting waivers that are beyond her powers as the head of NAP as well as changing agreements already approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) without consultations.
However, in her reply to Amaechi, Ms Usman also accused him of being economical with the truth.
She said apart from “exaggerations, manipulation of the truth and outright lies” in Amaechi’s speech, there’s nothing she had not addressed in her book if the former minister had cared to read.
She said the allegation of not remitting N165 billion of operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for which Amaechi sought and obtained former President Buhari’s approval to investigate the accounts of the NPA was not in the queries she received from the ministry.
Ms Usman said the query she received from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and her response was published in her book.
She also denied Amaechi’s claim that she was indicted on some ten counts.
“I do not know what these ten counts are, because no one communicated any such indictments to me,” she said.
She also countered his claims that she awarded contracts worth N2.8 billion without appropriation.
“This is false,” she said, noting there was nothing of such in the list of infractions conveyed to her in a query arising from the reports of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry he set up.
She said the only issue relating to a contract award in the query was about the emergency purchase of operational vehicles for N1.2 billion without approval from the Federal Executive Council.
“In my response to the query of the N1.2 billion expenditure, I explained that we made the procurement pursuant to the provisions of Sections 43 (1) (a), (2), (3) and (4) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 (PPA) which allows procuring entities to purchase items due to the emergency nature of the need and obtain the necessary approval upon conclusion of the procurement,” she said.
She said her response to the query on the waivers she granted explained the circumstances and justifications for all the waivers granted by the NPA management, and are published in her book.
She also accused the former minister of twisting facts when he spoke about the alleged “unilateral execution” of a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Sea Port Concession Project.
Ms Usman said she had responded that: “The Authority was of the view that the supplemental agreement was operational in nature and does not alter any major aspect of the concession agreement as it only rescheduled construction timeframe for a berth and allowed other players to partake in the development of dry bulk since the company was constrained to embark on the construction at that time …”
Speaking on his comments about birthday gifts, she said she only worked with him between December 2014 and May 2015, wondering how she could have given him “lots of birthday presents” within the period.
She said: “While this is a trivial issue, the question he should answer is whether he complained to someone that I never gave him a birthday gift as Minister or not.
“If indeed I offered him a present while he was Minister and he turned down my gift, why then did he complain that amongst “many crimes”, was the fact that I never gave him a birthday present?”
Ms Usman was suspended as the head of the NPA in May 2021, following Amaechi’s request to then-President Muhammadu to probe the accounts of the government agency.
Amaechi, then the minister supervising the NPA, had alleged that the NPA failed to remit about N165 billion operating surpluses into the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account of the federation.
He also set up an administrative panel of inquiry to investigate the affairs of the NPA, including awards of contracts from 2016 to May 2021. The panel found no wrongdoing against Ms Usman, yet she was removed from office and replaced with Mohammed Bello-Koko, who served as her executive director, of finance and administration.
She would later claim in her book that Mr Amaechi simply wanted her out of the NPA at all costs due to personal grudges.
Oil theft: Army uncovers 40 illegal oil wells in Rivers
The Nigerian Army has made a startling discovery of over 40 illegal crude oil wells in Rumuekpe community, in the Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The illegal oil wells were discovered on Wednesday during an operation led by the General Officer Commanding, Nigerian Army 6 Division, General Jamal Abdusallam.
Speaking to Journalists shortly after the operation, Major General Abdusallam noted that the wells which are approximately 40 feet deep, represent a new tactic employed by criminals to siphon crude oil from underground reserves.
Major General Abdusallam emphasised the significance of this discovery in the fight against oil theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta.
According to him, the perpetrators devised a method of excavating deep into the ground to access crude oil deposits directly. He expressed concern over the danger posed by these activities to both the environment and individuals involved.
Major General Abdussalam also said he will notify relevant authorities and deploy troops to prevent further exploitation of the area.
Several suspects were apprehended at the crime scene and are currently in military custody to enable further investigations.
One suspect, speaking anonymously, admitted that the wells were allegedly owned by various families in the community.
While describing the hazardous process of digging, the suspect highlighted the risks involved, including gas inhalation and suffocation.
The suspect revealed that individuals involved in the operation were paid around N40,000 to excavate a well, emphasizing the communal ownership of the resource and the perilous nature of their endeavors.
Tinubu’s visit: Akinterinwa’s Campaign Organsation accuses Aiyedatiwa of unleashing terror on citizens
The Campaign Organsation of the frontline governorship aspirant in the November gubernatorial election in Ondo State, Adewale Akinterinwa, has accused Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of using suspected political thugs to unleash terror during the visit of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the state on Wednesday.
President Tinubu was in Ondo State where he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late former Governor of the State, Rotimi Akeredolu.
According to statement by the spokesperson of Akinterinwa’s Campaign Organsation, Segun Ajiboye, suspected thugs loyal to the governor unleashed violence on the citizens and destroyed billboards of political opponents of the governor.
It will be recalled that the campaign organisation had on Tuesday accused the governor of preventing All Progressives Congress APC members from accessing the venue of the president’s visit expressed sadness over the return of thuggery to the political space the State.
The campaign organisation said “On Wednesday, February 28, thugs sponsored by the governor of Ondo state, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa, descended on the peaceful people of the state who had turned out in large number to receive President Bola Tinubu, GCFR, to the sunshine State.
“The thugs, fully loaded in unmarked vehicles, did not in any way hide their devilish intentions, as they went round major streets of Akure, destroying the bill boards of the other gubernatorial aspirants of the All Progressives Congress.
“The thugs fully armed with different types of guns, shot sporadically into the air to create fears in the people. Expectedly, thousands of supporters of the APC who had prepared to receive the president ran helter-skelter for dear lives.
“The ugly incident was coming barely 24 hours after the Wale Akinterinwa Campaign Structure raised the alarm about the dastardly activities by certain element acting for and on behalf of Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa to prevent members of the APC and leaders who are not in his camp to receive Mr President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR during his visit to Akure.
“Today’s action by the thugs acting on the directives of Mr Governor is most undemocratic, disrespectful, unreasonable and disdainful attempt by any Chief executive in the anals of democracy in Nigeria.
“This is a sad reminder of the wicked old days in the politics of our dear state. It marks an avoidable return to the dark days of hooliganism and political bandits in Ondo state.”
Good morning! Here Are Some Major News Headlines In The Newspapers Today: SIM-NIN linkage: NCC rules out extension, telcos bar 12 million lines
1. The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has ruled out an extension of the February 28, 2024, deadline for the linkage of Subscriber Identity Module cards to National Identification Numbers. As a result, telecommunication companies have been directed to bar 12 million lines which have not been linked to the owners’ NINs after the expiration of the deadline.
2. President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, appealed for patience from Nigerians over the current economic hardship in the country, giving the assurance that there was light at the end of the tunnel. The President said he was fully aware and took responsibility for the difficulties Nigerians had been subjected to on account of government policies.
3. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Wednesday, said the importation of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, into Nigeria has reduced by 50 per cent since the withdrawal of subsidy on the commodity.
4. The military Joint Task Force, North-West Operation Hadarin Daji, said on Wednesday that it neutralised scores of bandits and rescued eight kidnapped victims in Zamfara State. The Information Officer of Operation Hadarin Daji, Lt. Col. Suleiman Omale, stated this in a statement on Wednesday in Gusau.
5. The war against illegal oil bunkering and oil theft received a huge boost on Wednesday as troops of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, uncovered over 40 dugout crude oil wells in Rumuekpe community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State. The troops uncovered the site during a sweep-and-clear operation on the Trans Niger Delta Pipeline.
6. Operatives of the Edo State Police Command have arrested five suspected cultists, Emeka Eke, Chizoba Okolie, Samson Ochonobor, Friday Agbebayo and Julius Eguasa, for engaging in a street fight in Edo State. It was gathered that the suspects, alleged to be members of the Eiye Confraternity, engaged in street fighting at the Ramat Park area over failure to pay monthly dues and attend meetings of Eiye confraternity.
7. Two Binance executives — an American and a British- Pakistani — have been detained on the orders of National Security Adviser, NSA Nuhu Ribadu over alleged involvement in foreign exchange manipulations. It was learnt last night that the Federal Government obtained a Court Warrant to detain the men for 12 days, pending further investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
8. An Executive Order to “significantly reduce the cost of drugs and pharmaceutical products” in the country will soon be signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Health and Social Welfare Minister, Muhammed Pate stated these on Wednesday during the second edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing Series in Abuja.
9. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) apologised yesterday to their subscribers for the service hitches they have experienced for some days. The MNOs, under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, blamed the service disruptions on “severe fibre cuts” by contractors.
10. The Federal Government has allayed the fear of job loss with the implementation of the Oronsaye Report. Speaking at the fourth edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing Series in Abuja on Wednesday, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the implementation of the report would not lead to retrenchment.
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