A former board member of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Binta Garba has accused the embattled and suspended Managing Director of the agency Hadiza Bala-Usman of financial misappropriation.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Garba noted that she consistently raised concerns and questions about the manner in which the agency was being managed.
Rather than making amends, Bala-Usman, she claimed, orchestrated her removal and that of one other member of the board, John Akpanudoedehe, without the knowledge of the supervisory Ministry of Transportation.
Garba noted that she envisaged the suspension and removal of Usman from the weight of discrepancies that she observed in the agency’s financial records.
“Before my removal, I was not comfortable with the way the board and authority were run. I consistently expressed my discomfort and displeasure with the way the MD was running the place and this, I have no iota of doubt in my mind, made her to orchestrate my removal from the board,” she said.
“Note, I was removed without the knowledge of the supervising ministry/minister of transportation, which was very uncommon.”
But Usman, in a statement on Monday, described Garba’s statement as spurious.
She said since 2016, the NPA had been transparent with all its activities through the “signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with BudgIT Open Budget System Platform and Implementation of a Public Data Dissemination programme.”
“Publishing the tariff regime of the Authority on the website for the whole world to see in line with the vision of transparency and accountability, and conducting the statutory Audit of the backlog of Authority’s financial statements for 2013-2016 and presenting same for approval and submission to the appropriate quarters.”
She noted that the NPA under her engaged internationally renowned auditing firms for the examination of its financial statements up until 2019 with full compliance to all Nigerian laws and the International Financial Reporting Standards. The 2020 financial statement is currently being audited, she said.
The suspended NPA boss wondered why Garba did not withhold her signature when the auditors presented the financial statement to the finance committee of which she was a member.
“Did she seek clarifications on areas that seemed opaqued or suspicious? If she did, what happened? If she was not satisfied with the answers provided by the Auditors, why did she not consider withholding assent to the statement? Why did she not formally document her discontent? Why did she not issue a minority opinion on the statement, instead of now speaking after the fact?”
“All said and done, while I concede to Senator Binta Garba’s right to whatever opinion she desires concerning our relationship when she was a board member, I remind her that those who allow themselves to be used to malign innocent people have their own days of reckoning waiting for them,” she said.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved the suspension of Bala-Usman last week following the recommendation of Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi to set up an administrative panel of inquiry to investigate the management of the agency.
She is being probed for an alleged non-remittance of N165.32 billion operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.