The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that all procurement processes in the Procurement Act 2004 were followed in the award of the contract for dredging of the Escrovas Bar in Warri.

Similarly, it said all necessary approvals for the contract were received from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) before going ahead with the award of the contract.

According to a statement by the management of NPA, a copy of which was emailed to LEADERSHIP yesterday, the NPA clarified that upon receipt of the petition alleging that Dredging International Nigeria Limited (the contractor) had been convicted by a law court in Switzerland, it sought the legal counsel of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and requested an investigation of the petition by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as well as engaged a legal practitioner who embarked on an independent investigation of the petition and the claims of the company, even though it was in receipt of a sworn affidavit from Dredging International Nigeria Limited, to support its claim that it was a different entity from the company that was so convicted.

The findings of the investigation, the NPA said, revealed that allegations that Messers Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited had been convicted in a law court in Switzerland for corrupt practices involving some officials of the Nigerian government including the NPA were incorrect, and that the company so convicted in the Swiss Court was Dredging Cyprus Ltd, a co-subsidiary of DISN.

“The two companies have different legal personalities as so recognised by the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2004. The conviction of a subsidiary company indeed is not the conviction of all companies within a group of companies. In addition, none of the directors so convicted for complicity by the court in Switzerland is on the board of Dredging International Nigeria Limited. The results of these investigations were made available to the BPP.

“Nevertheless, the BPP itself set up an independent investigation of the petition and came to the conclusion that the company was eligible to participate in the bidding process,” the statement pointed out.

On the issue of allegations of conflict of interest coming from the fact the managing director of the NPA, alongside some of the directors were on the board of Bonny Channel Company, a joint venture set up as a long term structure for the continuous management, maintenance and provision of navigational aids of the Bonny channel with some directors of the awardee, the NPA said the directors’ membership of the board was on the strength of their current appointment, as “the NPA is chair of this JV by virtue of its ownership of 60 per cent shareholding in the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and our directors do not have any private interests in the company.”

The NPA said it was pertinent to put members of the public and stakeholders on notice that the company behind the spurious allegations against it was part of the consortium whose contract was terminated for having claimed to execute works of $34.6million in the Calabar Channel out of which $12.5mill has been paid without evidence of work done. “The Nigerian Government is currently in court with this consortium seeking for the refund of the Authority’s $12.5million for work claimed to have been done without evidence,” it added, emphasising that the organisation was still dazed by the NPA’s audacity to terminate the Calabar Channel contract and take them to court for the refund of monies collected, hence the campaign against it.