- Alleged serial blackmailers on loose
- Associates restate defense
The Plot Against NPA MD
In what could be likened to a relay race where a baton is passed from one runner to another, a group of persons described as blackmailers has been on a trail of the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko to cough out $500,000 as a condition to end their perpetual blackmail with some information cooked up malign and defame the integrity of the NPA boss.
Findings revealed that this group of persons has been unrelenting in their resolve to make Bello-Koko yield to their demands of cash settlements since his ascendency to the position of managing director of NPA in February, 2022.
While explanations have been severally given in the public space on the myriad of allegations, according to close associates of the NPA boss, the group has remained obstinate in its quest for character assassination and blackmail with a strategy to always pass the information on to the next willing accomplice who promises a dimension of force to realize their common dream.
According to an associate of the managing director, the dimension of the blackmail this time as captured in a viral report in social media, is that some nameless foreign investigators were said to have written the United Kingdom government seeking the visa cancellation, forfeiture of assets for Bello-Koko and his wife, Agatha Koko over alleged corruption cases, money laundry and fraud.
“The nameless investigators are also seeking an exclusion order which will ban the NPA boss and his family from accessing and entering the UK and its territories.
Meanwhile, Bello-Koko’s associates for the umpteenth have countered the claims that Bello-Koko purchased the private property with official funds, saying it is untrue.
One of the insiders restated within the week that the property that Bello-Koko was alleged to have acquired with NPA funds was purchased with a loan in 2015.
“The house they referred to was bought using a mortgage loan in 2015. He joined NPA/public service in July 2016. The house is still under mortgage”
The associate further revealed that the house was “declared on his Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, forms also.”
“People have been rushing to the media with false stories. For instance, let me tell you, those accusing the MD of incompetence have forgotten the fact that this man has improved the revenue of NPA beyond expectations, despite the glaring challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, galloping inflation, and depreciating exchange rates.
“This has earned him several national and international awards from notable government and non-governmental bodies within the Maritime sector. So, where is the incompetence coming from? It is obvious that those who engage in frivolous petitions are ignorant of the true state of matters within the NPA, as it affects the economy positively.
“It is important to note that since Bello-Koko assumed office as MD of NPA, several faceless groups have been writing fictitious petitions against him. And let me tell you why: it’s simply because it’s no longer business as usual at the agency which is evidenced in the successes recorded since the emergence of Koko”, he said.
More so, the NPA has busted these recycled allegations and made concrete revelations debunking allegations that the agency has been operating secret accounts.
Recently, the office of the Corporate and Strategic Communications described the secret accounts’ claims as false.
It said in a statement: “The attention of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has been drawn to a media report, suggesting that the Authority operates two secret accounts outside Nigeria, which have been allegedly looted.
“Contrary to their claims in the sponsored report, which are both false and malicious, the NPA operates two USD-denominated domiciliary accounts that were approved by the Federal Government and transparently run, following agreed official safeguards emplaced by the Office of the Accountant General through the CBN and the TSA policy of the Federal government of Nigeria against possible infractions and looting.
“While the NPA management’s initial disposition was to dismiss the news report with a wave of the hand, the compelling need to set the records straight and disabuse the minds of well-meaning and unsuspecting members of the various publics on the subject matter assumed prime consideration.
“Therefore, the Management hereby states as follows:
“That a request for approval to open two accounts for the collection of service boats pilotage revenue was made to the Accountant General of the Federation in a letter dated August 26, 2016.
“That the OAGF approved the opening of the accounts with their correspondent foreign banks as Citibank N.A. in London and New York respectively to collect service boats pilotage revenue accruing to the NPA.
“That as of the time the request for approval was made, the class of revenue was being collected by Integrated Logistics Services Limited (INTELS) on behalf of the NPA from the inception of the managing agent relationship which dates back to 1996.
“That there was a management agency relationship between INTELS and the NPA which gave INTELS the responsibility to monitor service boat operations and collect revenue from such operations on behalf of the NPA at an agreed commission.
“That both NPA & INTELS rely on the provision in the executed agreement to have access to view the inflow into the accounts for ease of reconciliation and to enable it to determine online real-time amounts paid by clients and the value of the invoice to send to the NPA for payment of their management services;
“That on a monthly basis, there were hundreds of payments for service boat operations that make payments directly into INTELS bank account.
“That on a periodic basis, INTELS remitted a portion of the revenue collected to the NPA and retained a significant portion in its vault, comprising commission on a collection of revenue and cost of Onne phase 4B expansion project through amortization.
“That the Management of the NPA considered this practice as being completely at variance with the requirements of Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of Government, which made it mandatory that all revenues accruing to all Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) must be remitted into one consolidated TSA account in the Central bank of Nigeria.
“That Management conducted a thorough review of the executed management agency agreement it entered into with INTELS and felt the urgent need to open revenue accounts dedicated to the collection of revenue from service boat operations based on certain parameters.
“The parameters included, among others: to ensure that Government revenues no longer reside in the vaults of private operators or companies; to ensure seamless reconciliation of revenue collection from service boat operations as there were hundreds of entries per month; to enthrone accountability and transparency in the management of revenue generation and collection from service boat operations; to enhance prompt reconciliation of service boat revenue generation and collection, which will facilitate prompt payment of agency commission by the Authority to INTELS in a transparent manner; and the prompt remittance of the net revenue after deduction of agency commission into the Authority’s TSA sub-account in the CBN.
“The Management also wishes to state that all the supposed assertions and innuendos in the news report as regards secrecy and diversion of funds in the accounts are nothing but spurious and laughable concoctions and disingenuous misinformation about happenings in the NPA in the fertile imaginations of the author of the unconscionable report.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the “Management states categorically that there was no how the funds in the accounts could have been secretly diverted or privatized as significant safeguards had been put in place by the Federal Government.
“In a February 13, 2017 letter of approval from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for the opening of the accounts for the collection of service boats pilotage revenue, operational modalities were approved, to wit:
“That the NPA will operate collection accounts only with two commercial banks to be designated as “Transit Accounts.
“That balances in these Accounts will be swept daily into the designated Treasury Single Account (TSA) Revenue Sub-Accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or as mutually agreed by all parties;
“That on no account should withdrawals be made from these Revenue Accounts;
“That participatory Banks and INTELS will write formally to the NPA to demand their collection charges on a monthly basis or as may have been agreed with them;
“That the NPA, upon due confirmation, reconciliation, and necessary due diligence, will forward the request to the Office of the Account General of the Federation for payment to parties; and,
“That in case of further clarifications on this matter, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation should be contacted accordingly.
“Besides, there were additional checks mechanisms put in place with the Banks to provide internet banking for the service boat revenue collection to enable “view-only” and printing capabilities of the statements of accounts by over twenty top management staff members of the NPA.
“With the explanations supra, the Management hereby wishes to state that the specious report about two persons looting the NPA’s so-called secret accounts could not have been possible.
“We, therefore, therefore wish to state that the current NPA management under the leadership of the Managing Director, Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, is only aware of the approved USD-denominated domiciliary accounts as stated above and not aware of secret foreign accounts as indicated in the malicious online newspaper report.
“The NPA Management runs an open administration and gives premium to due process in the execution of its core mandates.
“We, therefore, wish to urge Nigerians to take note of the Management’s commitment to transparency in its financial transactions.”