The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has said that the termination of its boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with its erstwhile agents, Intels Nigeria Limited, was done in accordance with the Nigerian constitution.
NPA, in a statement by Abdullahi Goje, General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications said it is compelled to issue this statement in reaction to questions raised by the general public on the threat by Intels.
“To start with, we must inform our stakeholders and the general public that the Authority relied on the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, in arriving at the decision to terminate the contract.”
It said that the legal advice was sought after more than one year of attempts to get Intels to comply with the Federal Government’s directive on the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The first such correspondence, it said, was through a letter written by the former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Olumide Oduntan on June 28, 2016 directing the company to pay all revenues collected on behalf of the NPA into the TSA sub account at the CBN.
It said that all further attempts by the Authority to get the company obey this directive was met with various excuses until the Authority wrote to seek the AGF’s legal advise on how to proceed with the NPA/Intels relationship in a letter dated May 31, 2017.
The legal advice contained in a September 27, 2017 letter addressed to the Managing Director of the Authority, Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) expressly stated as follows: “For the avoidance of doubt, the agreement for the monitoring and supervision of pilotage districts in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria on terms inter alia that permits Intels to receive revenue generated in each pilotage district from service boat operations in consideration for 28% of total revenue as commission to Intels is void, being a contract ex facie illegal as formed for permitting Intels to receive federal government revenue contrary to the express provisions of Sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which mandates that such revenue must be paid into the Federation Account/Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“In the premise of the above, the conflict between the agreement and the TSA policy presents a force majeure event under the agreement, and NPA should forthwith commence the process of issuing the relevant notices to Intels exiting the agreement which indeed was void ab initio.”
As a responsible agency of the Federal Government, the Authority said it therefore proceeded to act as advised, which is to terminate the contract forthwith.
“The Authority has taken note of threats by Intels to withdraw its investment plans in Nigeria and must point that business thrives in favour of everyone involved only when the laws of the country of operation are adhered to.
“No organisation is above the Nigerian constitution and it is only when all corporate entities obey the laws of the country that everyone benefits. There must be a level playing field for all players in the sector and this is the commitment of the Authority.”
However, NPA said that it respects the right of Intels and all other corporate entities in Nigeria to explore opportunities presented by the courts to enforce their rights in as much as the Authority is confident of the correctness of the step that it has taken.
“The board and management of the NPA is committed to serving the best interest of Nigeria at all times and this is what has happened in the case under discussion,” the statement stressed.