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$20m bribery: Indicted foreign company bids for NPA contract

$20m bribery: Indicted foreign company bids for NPA contract

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says it is still investigating  the $20m bribery scam involving a company, Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd. and some former officials of  the Nigerian Ports Authority.

There were  reports in August that  the Swiss authorities, had through the Office of The Attorney General, Department of International Affairs on May 2, 2012,  indicted the company and  some  top  ex-NPA officials in a $20m bribery.

According to the reports, Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd. was fined One million Swiss Francs by a Switzerland court for bribing Nigerian officials.

However, nothing had been done to the indicted NPA officials despite the fact that the Swiss government wrote a report on it and sent it to the Federal Government during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

It was gathered that the indicted company was still bidding for contract at the NPA.

When contacted on Wednesday, the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the commission was still investigating the $20m bribery.

“The case (the $20m bribery)  is under investigation and I am unable to give further details at this stage,” Uwujare said when contacted by The PUNCH.

In an email sent to him, the EFCC spokesman had been asked if the commission was still probing the bribery and if the EFCC was investigating new contracts involving the firm.

On her part, the spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mrs. Yetunde Sonaike, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that the NPA should be contacted on the matter.

A source at the NPA, who pleaded for anonymity because he had no authority to speak on the matter, said that the agency was not aware of new contracts involving the firm.

One of our correspondents was however advised to meet with the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Abdullah Goje, in his office on Thursday.

“I am not aware of such contracts. Where did you get such information from? Anyway, come to the office and talk with the GM, Corporate Communications tomorrow (today). He is in the best position to talk to you,” the source said.

But efforts made by one of our correspondents to speak to Goje failed as he was said to be out of the country.

However, the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Bala Usman, had described the $20m bribery as deeply embarrassing.

She had said that the NPA management would investigate the matter and bring all culpable individuals to book.

“We are reviewing the indictments and we will call for a full-scale investigation as it relates to companies and individuals in Nigeria said to have been involved,” Ms. Bala Usman.

The Swiss authorities had in 2012, invoked the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the International Law Principle of Reciprocity and forwarded the report on the bribery to the administration of ex-President Jonathan.

But the former administration was reported to have described the $20m as “consultancy” fees.

A top government source said the outcome of the EFCC’s investigations would determine  the dealings of the Federal Government with the Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd.

“The EFCC is still investigating the case and from all indications, the company is still interested in doing business in Nigeria. The outcome of the investigations will guide the Federal Government and the NPA. It is still premature to make a pronouncement on the matter,” the source stated.

It was also gathered that the NPA had contacted its legal unit for necessary advice on how to handle its future dealings with Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Ltd. and the indicted former members of staff of the NPA.

It was also gathered that the legal unit would advise the NPA if it could take actions against its former workers.

“We need legal advice on our former members of staff on whether or not within our own mandate we can take action against them. We will follow due process, without prejudice to the investigation by the appropriate regulatory authority,” an NPA source said.


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