The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, on Tuesday, ordered the Nigerian Ports Authority to immediately call a meeting with firms operating Nigeria’s ports to determine their actual indebtedness to the Federal  Government.

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This is based on an audit query issued by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation claims that 18 port terminal operators had failed to remit total sums of $753m and N1.61bn to the government.

Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, ordered the reconciliation meeting at an investigative hearing after one of the terminal operators listed by the NPA as one of the debtors denied owing $4.04m.

Oke said the Bureau for Public Enterprises and some of the committee members should be part of the meeting.

According to him, the reconciliation was necessary to resolve the controversy between the two parties over the actual amounts owed to the government.

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Oke noted that the terminal operators were invited by the committee to file their defense, adding that the government was in dire need of revenue to meet certain obligations.

The lawmaker said, “I want Nigerians to understand why we invited private companies. Ordinarily, we have no business with private companies. The Auditor General for the Federation indicted terminal operators for being indebted to the NPA, Nigerian Ports Authority.

“We invited the NPA and they have made their submission and gave us their breakdown of what the terminal operators owe them and that they tried severally to recover the money. For fair hearing, we have invited you because we cannot shave your hair in your absence. That is why we had to invite you so that we can hear your side of the story because we are at a crossroads.”