The House of Representatives has revealed its decision to investigate the alleged secret account being managed by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with a balance of over $1bn.
The move followed the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Mr Kolawole Lawal at the plenary on Thursday.
The motion was entitled, ‘The Need to Investigate the Alleged Illegal Secret Account Opened by the Nigerian Ports Authority in Unity Bank to Collect Revenue from Vessels.’
As a result, the House directed the Committees on Finance; and Ports and Harbours to “investigate these allegations and counter-allegations, determine if the Nigerian Ports Authority or any of their personnel committed any infractions.”
The investigation stems from the allegation from a whistle-blower, John Okupurhe, who claimed that he informed the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation about a hidden or secret account operated by the NPA in Unity Bank to in violation of the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account policy, which led to the exposure of an account in a Lagos branch of Unity Bank, where $1,034, 516,000 was deposited.
The office of the AGF had replied that the government paid whistle-blowers whose information led to the successful recovery of illicit funds and not for mere disclosure of suspected illegitimate funds.
However, the NPA declared that the account had not been in operation since August 27, 2010, due to a suit, where a garnishee order was placed on it, following a case, which went from the Federal High Court to the Supreme Court over a period of eight years.
But Lawal said, “The House is concerned that the material particulars of the allegations by the whistle-blower have been contradicted by the NPA but since public fund is involved in the matter, it is imperative that the House intervenes in the crisis, with a view to establishing the true situation in public interest.
“The House is concerned also that the NPA may be operating from other account in similar situation.
“The House also wonders if the NPA or any Federal Government MDA has authority to keep revenue generated in any commercial bank, in view of clear provisions of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides all revenue collected by the Government of the Federation shall be paid into a special account called the Federation Account.”
The NPA, in a statement by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams, said it was not afraid of the investigation.
In the statement titled, ‘NPA welcomes House of Representatives investigations,’ Adams said, “While awaiting communications from the House Committees on Finance; and Ports and Harbours on the proposed investigations, the authority restates its position in the statement issued by management earlier this week that the Unity Bank account, number 0013680344, cited by the whistle-blower, Mr Okpurhe, does not exist.”