Senate probes BPE, alleges unremitted $679.4m rent on ports’ concession

Senate probes BPE, alleges unremitted $679.4m rent on ports’ concession
Floor of the Nigerian Senate

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun an investigation of the Bureau of Public Enterprises for allegedly failing to remit $679.4m realised from the concession of various ports to 23 companies the Nigerian Ports Authority over a period of 10 years.

The investigation is based on the ‘Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December 2019.’

The Acting Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, had presented the report to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Amos, on September 15, 2021, while the Senate and House Committees on Public Accounts launched an investigation into the queries.

The query by the office against the BPE showed that 23 companies were granted concession at various ports under the NPA for 10 years and above, with an annual rent of $679.4m payable to the NPA as of December 31 of every year.

However, the office said an audit showed that there was no evidence that $679m was collected as and when due and remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The query read in part, “Twenty-three companies were granted concessional rent of various ports under Nigerian Ports Authority for 10 years and above with associated yearly rent of $679,403,172.00 payable to NPA as at 31st December 2016.

“There is no evidence to show that the sum of $679,403,172.00 was collected as at when due and remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

“This has been communicated to the Bureau vide letter with reference No. OAuGF/RESAD/05/2016/07 dated 19th April, 2018. No response has been received from the Bureau.

“Unremitted funds may be misapplied by the bureau. Also, it may lead to the diversion of funds to other uses.

“The Director-General of the BPE is required to show evidence that the sum of $679,403,172.00 was collected and remitted to the appropriate authority.”

However, the BPE, in its written response to the committee, explained that the concession was done in 2005 and the agreement clearly showed that BPE was only a confirming party while the primary parties to the concessions were the NPA and the concessionaires.

The BPE stated that the responsibility for such collection was that of the NPA, and not the bureau.

The BPE added, “Having midwifed the concession transactions, the BPE collected some of the remittances to the NPA. The NPA has since acknowledged the transfer made regarding the rentals received on its behalf by the bureau.

“Revenue accruing on the ports concession have, beyond 2008, been paid directly to ‘Landlord,’ NPA, and not the BPE as the OAuGF report appears to allege. We are, therefore, unaware of the $679.4m.”

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