The last may not have been heard about the battle over the award of the Warriors dredging contract to Dredging International Services Nigeria (DISN) Limited, a subsidiary of Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Limited, as the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, has denied any wrongdoing in the award of the contract.

A dredging firm, Dredging Atlantic Limited (DAL), last week accused the NPA of bias in the award of the $44.861million (N16.150 billion) to DISN

That DISN is a Cyprus-based subsidiary of the Belgian petroleum infrastructure and dredging group DEME. DISCL was sentenced last year May in Switzerland and asked to pay a fine of Sfr one million ($1.03 million) and repay Sfr 36 million ($ 37.3 million) of illegal profit, the company was also allegedly involved in $20 million bribery of ex-officials of the NPA.

But, speaking over the weekend, the managing director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, at a press briefing to announce Nigeria’s hosting of the International Association of Ports and Harbour (IAPH) on September 17 in Abuja tagged: “African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity,” made clarification on the award of the Warri Channel dredging contract.

The NPA MD said, “We had a petition that was submitted to us that a company that was prequalified for the Warri Channel dredging contract has been convicted in respect of the fact that we are aware of the convicted. In fact when the company that happened to be our partner in our joint venture was convicted, we submitted the conviction documents to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), drawing attention to the fact that the company has been convicted, the facts of the conviction and the persons that monies were paid to.

“The conviction is attributable to payments that were made to certain individuals within the NPA, Federal Ministry of Transportation and other agencies to facilitate payment of invoices from NPA.

“The deposition that they provided to the Swiss court was that the NPA refused to pay them in joint venture invoices, demanding for payments. They also listed payments that were made to militants in the Niger Delta to enable them have access to their dredging works.”

She continued, “A year after, a subsidiary of the company bided for works with the NPA, in the course of the technical process we had the petition that they were so convicted. They had submitted to us a sworn affidavit that they were not the company convicted. We proceeded with our technical processes and made submissions to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

“BPP directed us to do an independent investigation of the affidavit they gave. We hired a law firm which did the investigation and made submission that the company is a subsidiary of the company that was convicted. “We were made to understand that the company that bidded for the contract has a different legal personality and a different legal profile. The directors of the company during the conviction are not the same directors of this company.”

She stated that the company making the allegation of wrongdoing was the same company the NPA canceled their Calabar Channel dredging contract.

When contacted, the lawyer to Dredging Atlantic Limited, Mr Liborous Oshoma, said the Calabar Dredging contract that the NPA managing director was referring to was awarded to Niger Global by NPA on a PPP arrangement.

“Neither Dredging Atlantic or its technical partner, Westminster Dredging, were part of that bidding process. Otherwise, ask NPA to give you the bidding documents for that job. It’s a notorious fact that Westminster Dredging our technical partners are the best Dredging company in Nigeria. Therefore, Niger Global Ltd sub-contracted the Contract to our Technical Partners, Westminster Dredging.

“Unfortunately, after our technical partners commence the job and executed to the tune of $10,000,000 (including request to do additional job) Niger Global, apart from the initial $500,000 deposit paid, failed to met up with subsequent payment terms, which made our technical partners abandon the job.

“And after subsequent failed attempts to collect from Niger Global Ltd for job done, Westminster wrote to NPA informing them of Niger Global’s indebtedness to her (Westminster Dredging) and requested NPA to deduct her monies from any monies that was to be paid to Niger Global Ltd for any job done,”he said.