As Nigerians await the final outcome of the probe into the various infractions by Ms Hadiza Bala Usman , the suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Ports, facts have emerged that the embattled NPA Strong woman may just be heading for prison on account of her monumental breaches to the Public Procurement Act of 2007.
Shipping World can report on good authority that the investigative panel which probed her stewardship at NPA has found her guilty of a gross violation of the public procurement laws of Nigeria. The law says ” Any offence under the Public Procurement Act is punishable with conviction without an option of fine where an offender is a human being but not a public officer ,he/she is punished to an imprisonment for 5years without an option of fine for 5 years.
Ms Hadiza Bala Usman’s predicament is coming on the heels of a damning evidence by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani. Dr Ajani had in a written deposition to thev panel , dated November 23 , 2021 stated among other serious infractions that;1.1 ‘This memorandum is submitted to the Administrative Panel on Activities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (2016_2020) with respect to the alleged infractions by the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman in the discharge of her responsibilities as Managing Director, NPA. 1.2 “The NPA as a parastatal of the FMT is expected to take administrative , policy and political direction from the FMT as epitomized by the Hon Ministry of Transportation. Infact, section 124 of the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, CAP N126 L.F.N 2004 vests the Minister with the power to supervise and direct NPA on matters that relate to policy…. Apart from listing over a dozen correspondence to the NPA which Dr Ajani said Hadiza ignored , it was revealed that Hadiza Bala Usman flagrantly breached the public procurement Act when she unilaterally awarded a contract to the the tune of over N2.8billion without recourse to extant laws. Said Dr Ajani: ” In addressing the unfortunate effects of the ( EndSARS) protests , the NPA under Ms Hadiza Bala Usman embarked on a series of of “Emergency Procurements”which totaled approximately N2.8b were carried out by the Authority without scrupulous adherence to the relevant provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and without recourse to,or approval of the Minister of Transportation. A significant transaction under this heading was the decision to procure 28no operational vehicles in the sum of N1.277,669,183.95(One billion, two hundred and seventy seven million, six hundred and sixty nine thousand,one hundred and eighty three naira ) inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT from Globe Motors Holding Limited. This singular transaction, according to Ajani, was clearly beyond the procurement threshold of the NPA, and was undertaken without recourse or notice to the supervising Ministry. The Ministry observed that a correspondence from the BPP dated July 12, 2021(Due Process Review Report) had highlighted the several regulatory gaps in the unilateral emergency procurement undertaken by the MD at the time. The panel, it was informed, said Hadiza Bala Usman routinely used ” Emergency Procurements” to undertake diverse forms of procurement which in the opinion of the Ministry could have been undertaken using regular procurement processes. Infractions: The said emergency procurement was purportedly undertaken by Hadiza pursuant to section 43(1)(a) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.It was however done in disregard of Section 17 of PPA(Approving Authority). Ministerial and FEC approvals were not obtained by the Hadiza before expending such huge amount of money in clear violation of the Public Procurement Act. 2007, and the NPA Act 2004