New information available to SaharaReporters shows how the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman, lied to her superiors and sabotaged the plan by the Nigerian government to decongest Lagos ports by dredging the Calabar Port.
SaharaReporters learnt that Usman lied to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Senate about the recommendations of a committee she had set up to investigate the dredging project at the Calabar Port.
Her lies have cost Nigeria lives, billions of naira and jobs as Nigeria continues to rely on Lagos ports with its attendant congestion and other problems, it was also gathered.
For instance, widespread congestion at the Lagos ports costs Nigeria $55 million (about N20.8 billion) daily, according to a 2020 report by Dynanmar, a Dutch consultancy firm.
According to sources in the industry, Usman consistently lied to Osinbajo, Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on the Apapa gridlock, tasked with the job of decongesting the Lagos ports, that dredging the Calabar Port was not viable.
The project is under Calabar Channel Management, a joint venture operation between a consortium led by Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Following allegations that money was paid for dredging at Calabar Port with nothing to show for it, Usman set up a committee to investigate three allegations: One, that Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited did not follow due process in carrying out the job; two, that dredging Calabar Ports is not viable and must not be done; and three, that work was not done on the site by the company.
The report of the committee along with other documents sighted by SaharaReporters indeed prove that work had commenced at Calabar Port and that it was viable, but Usman ignored the report of the committee and insisted that the job must be stopped.
Sources privy to the issue said Usman took the position because he wanted the job for her cronies and not a neutral company.
One of the sources privy to the committee’s report said, “She (Hadiza Bala-Usman) has been hiding the truth. The job was suspended after President Muhammadu Buhari came in. There were allegations that money was paid and that the job was not done. Then she set up a committee.
“The vice president has been in charge of how they can reduce traffic in Lagos so he put pressure on her and she said she would set up a committee to make recommendations. She was in London, UK when the report came out but said nobody should sign the report.
“Later, she granted interviews to newspapers, saying the committee indicted the company (Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited), which was totally a lie. Her lies have cost the country so much money because dredging the Calabar Port would have decongested Lagos ports. It would have made more money for the government and created many jobs.
“The committee members; we said we had to sign it. Later she said we should sign. But when Osinbajo and the Senate asked about it, she said the job should not continue, contrary to what is in the report. She told the Vice President that dredging should not be done because it was not viable.”
“We confirmed the first (that Niger Global followed due process) and we hired a consultant from Switzerland to find out if work had been done and they showed work had been done. Nigerian Navy also wrote that they provided security for the dredger at the time it was working.
“The Swiss company is called Coastal And Reclamation Engineering Services, popularly referred to as CARES. This company is being appointed by the NPA to regularly audit the three channel management namely; Lagos Channel Management (LCM), Bonny Channel Management (BCM) and Calabar Channel Management (CCM). Payments of work done can only be made to contractors after CARES audited the job and confirmed that work was done.
“The company also confirmed that work had started there but she hid the truth and refused to share the content of the report with the Ministry of Transportation. And not dredging the Calabar Port is costing Nigeria a lot in terms of money and jobs for the teeming population.
“Usman mischievously questioned the work of its one hired Auditors (CARES) on Calabar channel management but at the same time accepted and made payments to LCM and BCM on the advice of the same auditor. She wanted to give the job to her cronies and consistently lied to the Vice President, AGF and the Senate.
“Nobody except the members knows the content of the committee’s report, not the Vice President or even the Ministry of Transportation or the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. She is interested in taking the job and giving it to her cronies,” another source said.
SaharaReporters sighted the report of the committee set up to review the activities of Calabar Channel Management Limited done in November 2016.
The committee members are listed as: Prof Idris Abubakar, Executive Director, E&TS; Engr. Peter Obinomen, General Manager, Capital Projects; Engr. A. R. Mohammed, General Manager, PP&D; Engr. A. A. Jatto, General Manager, Engineering Maintenance; A. A. Ningi, General Manager, Audit; Nana Yakubu, Assistant General Manager, Legal; Surveyor O. Omotoso, Assistant General Manager, Hydro; Engr M. U. Isa, Principal Manager, BD&JV.
The committee’s terms of reference were stated thus: “to carry out a holistic review of the Joint Venture Agreement between the NPA and Niger Global, to examine the request for payments by Niger Global received vide letter ref. T0160/S107/IXA/205 dated 15th August, 2016 from the office of the Minister of Transportation, to examine the operational and administrative effectiveness of CCM, to make appropriate recommendations to management.”
The recommendations of the committee among others as stated in the document say, “Having verified volumes dredged, all outstanding payments due to CCML should be effected in line with the provisions of the JV Agreement.
“That in view of the subsisting presidential approval for the JV, CCML be allowed to continue with its operation but at a reduced scale to be determined by the authority’s need and CCML’s Board Technical and Finance Committees.
“That henceforth, a multi-disciplinary project management team made of civil engineers, surveyors, hydrographers be appointed with definite responsibility to manage the dredging activities of all the channel management companies (LCM, BCC &CCML).”
However, in a letter she wrote to the Minister of Justice, Malami, the suspended NPA MD said the contractor connived with the consultant and lied to the NPA that work was done. She also lied to the minister that no key officer of the NPA such as Port Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer agreed that any work was done.
The letter dated June 5, 2018 and received by the ministry on June 8, 2018 was signed by I.G. Umar, Assistant General Manager, Board, for NPA Managing Director.
The letter was titled ‘Re: Execution Summary of the Entire Argument Surrounding the Calabar Channel Management Contract at the Truth Verifiably Documentary Evidence’.
Part of Usman’s letter to Malami read: “The committee found amongst others; that the Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer (two key officers) who should be involved in the dredging exercise denied that any dredging activities took place within the period claimed by Niger Global, the ship movement of the dredgers MV Atlantico, MV Hurricane and MV Waterway could not be substantiated by the Calabar port, the pre and post comparison of the depth of the channel with a survey carried out six months before the dredging exercise revealed that the alleged dredging of the areas of the channel was questionable.”
“Meanwhile, this same consultant is having a valid contact with the NPA and it is the same consultant that is confirming work of both Bonny and Lagos channel managements and the same MD is making payment to these companies on the basis of confirmation of work by the same consultant she’s accusing of wrongdoing.
“The second big lie she told the minister is that no any key officer of the NPA such as Port Harbour Master and Port Hydrographer agreed that any work was done,” one of the sources said.
But the report of the committee shows that Port Hydrographer, a key officer of the NPA, was a member of the technical committee and signed under a report which confirmed that work was done.
A letter from the Nigerian Navy dated July 2017 with ref VT: 015/73/200/Vol.IV/70, made available to SaharaReporters also showed the suspended NPA MD was hiding the true state of things.
The letter, addressed to the Managing Director, Calabar Channel Management Company, was titled, ‘Provision of Security Services to the Dredging Company for Calabar Channel for the period 20 November, 2014 to 15 January, 2015’.
It says, “This is to confirm that the Nigerian Navy through NNS VICTORY Calabar provided all the security services to the personnel and equipment of Calabar Channel Management Company for the successful execution of dredging exercise. The operation was hitch-free based on our assessment hence there was no security breach during the period.”
“At the moment, nobody including the minister (Amaechi) and the President is aware of the true outcome of that committee report because she refused to let them have a copy of the report and she only keeps telling them and Nigerians that the committee report indicted the contractor.
“She has granted many interviews in which she told lies about the whole contract. She’s a pathological liar and always knows how to get away with all this. Her arrogance and disregard for working ethics have cost Nigeria a lot and still cost Nigeria hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. She is the reason why Calabar Port has not been dredged and Lagos ports decongested,” added one of the sources.
Police Kill Kidnapper, Rescue Victim In Adamawa State
A kidnapper has been killed in Adamawa State, police have said.
The unnamed kidnapper was part of a gang that kidnapped 23-year-old Usaman Manu, in Gola village, Song Local Government Area.
In a release by the spokesperson for the police in the state, DSP Suleiman Nguroge, the kidnapper was reported to have been killed during a shoot-out with the police.
He said, “The Adamawa State police command on 31/05/2021 received report from one Yahaya Muhammed of Gola village, Song Local Government Area that on the 28/5/2021 between the hours of 1am and 2am, armed men numbering four invaded his house, situated at Gola village, and kidnapped his son, Usman Manu, 22, at gunpoint.
“The kidnappers later called and demanded a ransom of N3 million (three million naira) and directed that the ransom be taken to them in a certain place situated at a remote side of Zumo Mountain.
“The Commissioner of Police, Aliyu Adamu Alhaji, immediately deployed the command’s machineries to augment the strength of the operatives attached to Song division and vigilantes.
“The suspects in an attempt to escape, fired sporadically to scare our men, but when fire was returned, one of the kidnappers was neutralised and the kidnapped victim was rescued unharmed.
“The CP commended the DPO of Song and the vigilantes for their resilience.
“He also directed them to sustain the tempo and to go after the fleeing suspects.
“The command, while reassuring of its commitment to protect lives and property, calls on members of the public to continue to report to the police any suspicious character around their neighbourhood,” he said.
The Death Of Ahmed Gulak, By Reuben Abati
The cold-blooded murder of Hon. Ahmed Gulak, former Speaker of the Adamawa House of Assembly, former Special Adviser on Political Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, former national co-ordinator of the Goodluck Support Group (GSG) and former Governorship aspirant under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is yet another tragic indication of the crisis of insecurity that Nigeria faces. It is disturbing and frightening because this was a Northern politician who had gone to the South East only to be brutally cut down by “unknown gunmen” on his way to the airport after concluding his visit to Imo State.
This was a clear case of assassination. There were two other persons with him according to reports. The assassins, true to type, identified their quarry, murdered him and didn’t bother about the witnesses. It is all the more curious because Gulak has a recent history of association with Imo State. He was the leader of the APC team that organized the controversial party primaries in Imo State ahead of the 2019 Gubernatorial elections. Gulak it was said, was under pressure to sign the papers declaring an associate and relation of the then Governor Rochas Okorocha, as the winner of the primaries. Gulak refused and sneaked out of town under the cover of night. He alleged that he was offered a $2 million bribe and a private jet. Whatever may be the circumstances that took him to Imo State this time around, he obviously also wanted to sneak out of town without drawing attention to himself. If he had known that he was a person of interest in that part of the country, he probably would have stayed away. Or did anyone trail him to Imo State, monitored his movements and struck at a convenient spot and time? Did his assassins choose the place of attack deliberately to hide their trail, and divert attention?
In most cases of this nature, the Nigeria Police are often so lazy, so unimaginative. They easily jump to conclusions, latching on to the most convenient lead. This explains why the initial reaction from the Imo State Police Command was that Gulak made himself a target by not asking for security escort. For us to feel safe and have a good country, it must be possible for anyone at all to move around freely in Nigeria without having to seek police escort. Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution states clearly that the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. Section 41 of the same Constitution guarantees the freedom of movement. Section 34 talks about the right to the dignity of the human person. These are three major areas in which the Nigerian government has failed the people over the years. Why should citizens seek police protection in order to travel from their homes or hotel rooms to the airport? If we all do so, there will no policeman left on routine duty.
The sad part of it is that we live in a country where no one is safe anymore, not even school children, students and their teachers, wives, husbands, and the ordinary man. The state is in recess. It is absent. Its institutions are too fragile to help the people. The people are like orphans in their own country. Gulak’s death should be a warning sign of how dangerously Nigeria sits on the brink of the precipice and the edge of a knife. This is why the security agents handling the investigations must learn to think before opening their mouths. In less than 24 hours after the killing, the Police not only blamed Gulak for killing himself (because he did not ask for police security! Imagine!), they also immediately concluded that bandits were behind the killing. In 24 hours, they opened a case file and closed it. This kind of beer-parlour-policing is unacceptable. I expect the Police headquarters in Abuja to take charge directly from the office of the Inspector General of Police. We have been told that the Police have since apprehended Gulak’s killers. So fast? Are the suspects in custody really the killers? Or is this a case of lazy policing?
The murder of Hon. Ahmed Gulak is bound to widen the distrust between the South and the North. The optics are bad. The signs are ominous. Gulak did not go to Imo State to graze cattle, and even if he did, he did not deserve to be murdered. It should not be surprising therefore, that his murder is being located in the growing North-South politics of difference, and the rights of every Nigerian under the Constitution. Hence, much effort has been made to ethnicize his murder, or lend it an ethnic colouration. That is the dangerous part of it, and it is the reason the Nigerian government must not treat this as just another murder. The First World War was ignited by the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists, the Black Hand. He was the presumptive heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne. The Great War started a month after his death, and went on for four years. And over 20 million people died. It takes only one incident to ignite others and turn embers into a huge conflagration.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State Governor, Chair of the Southern Governors Forum and APC chieftain, is right to have described the killing of Ahmed Gulak as “one murder too many” and an attempt “to instigate Nigerians against each other, particularly Northerners against the Igbo living outside the South East.” Toeing the same line, human rights activist, author, and politician Comrade Shehu Sani, member of the 8th National Assembly, who represented Kaduna Central, has also appealed to youths in Northern Nigeria not to seek vengeance for the murder of Ahmed Gulak in the South East. Nigeria’s civil war, 1967 -1970 was ignited by ethnic sentiments and reprisal killings. No country survives two civil wars. We all have to be careful. There is an evil wind blowing across the country. On Sunday, the Coalition of Northern Groups issued a statement to say that the murder of Ahmed Gulak is an indication that the North can no longer continue to co-exist with people of Igbo extraction inside Nigeria. The group accused South East leaders of funding the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to cause havoc and “replicate the ugly events of 1966”. The Northern Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN) also called on the Governor of Imo State to produce Gulak’s killers within two weeks or risk being declared “persona non grata in the North”. This same NYCN has since toned down its rhetoric and praised the police. The volte-face is suspicious but helpful.
It is good news also that the IPOB and ESN, the militant, political and security units defending Igbo and secessionist Biafra interests have declared that they have no hand in the Gulak assassination, and that in no way was he a person of concern to them. What no one can deny however, is that the South East has become a war zone. Whereas it is possible to talk about insurgents, terrorists, and kidnappers in Northern Nigeria occupying the Sambisa Forest or what they now call, the Timbuktu Triangle, the South East of Nigeria is now the operation field of a strange phenomenon called “unknown gunmen.” Nigeria must be the only country in the world where ghosts and unidentifiable objects cause so much havoc and the state is so terribly helpless. From Ebonyi to Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Imo and every part of the South East, human beings are being killed, kidnapped, murdered, assaulted, offices and facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police, the immigration service, the judiciary are being set ablaze and all we hear is that “unknown gunmen” are behind it all. Is there anything that is known to the Nigerian government at all?
In the last 3 days, there have been other assassinations: The Chief Provost of Nigerian Immigration Service, Imo State Command, Okiemute Mrere was murdered on Saturday night on Owerri-Port Harcourt Road. In Niger State, bandits are on rampage. They have set a police station ablaze and kidnapped persons, including 200 school children. In Ibadan, Oyo State a popular businessman, Maduabuchi Owuamanam was also assassinated on Saturday, May 29, along Mokola-Sango Road. In Abuja, yesterday, Omoyele Sowore, leader of the #RevolutionNow movement had a life-threatening encounter with assassins in state uniform. In his own case, he lives to tell the story, asking his followers to carry on with the revolution even if he gets killed. Dead men don’t tell stories. The truth is this: nobody is safe in this country anymore, and whereas this may sound repetitive, note this: not even the foetuses in blessed wombs waiting to join the Nigerian nightmare are safe. The country is that bad.
I knew Ahmed Gulak. We worked together in the Jonathan administration. He advised the President on Political Matters, and was later the co-ordinator of the Goodluck Support Group. In the latter capacity, he stepped on some powerful and sensitive toes as he went around the country in the lead up to the 2015 elections, and that was what led to his exit. I announced his appointment and his exit. But the Ahmed Gulak I remember, is a political man of action. He was articulate, knowledgeable and experienced. Having served as Speaker of the House of Assembly in Adamawa, and entrenched as he was in party politics, he carried himself with the aplomb of a man who had been here and there. He was friendly and approachable. In a sense, he was one of us, the boys in the Jonathan inner circle, that is the “the main body”. There were persons who were not permanently with the Principal but who wielded much influence because they had access. He was one of them. President Jonathan liked him a lot. The story of his exit will not be told here, except to say that one Governor at the time felt Ahmed Gulak had the temerity to visit his state without his permission and held meetings without his approval, and that was it. The Governor raised hell. Those were the days. I am under no obligation to say more. With his death, we have lost a man who enjoyed the art of politics and sought to excel in it. He was confident, assertive and always well turned out. He was one of the shining stars in his part of the country. He was detribalised. His murder on the streets of Imo State is most unfortunate because that was a man who felt at home in any part of the country. Nigeria has lost a gem, and as always, it is the country that has been shot in the foot. His death should not end up as another item in Nigeria’s long list of unresolved political assassinations.
Dapo Abiodun And Honour For Olusegun Osoba
I was in Abeokuta on Tuesday, May 25, to attend the commissioning of a Press Centre at the Government Secretariat, Oke Mosan in honour of Chief Olusegun Osoba, two-time Governor of Ogun State (1992 -1993) and (1999 -2003). It is curious that the Ogun State Government since 1976 when the state was created had no press centre for journalists reporting on the activities of the state government. The main infrastructure, before now, where press meetings could be comfortably held is the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre at Oke-Ilewo, opposite the old secretariat. This NUJ centre is a multi-purpose arena. It is one of the most popular Amala and Suya joints in Abeokuta! When Governor Dapo Abiodun assumed office in 2019, he promised to build a modern-day, state of the art media centre for journalists in Ogun State, to facilitate their work and promote the freedom of information. He has kept his promise. I was one of the guests.
Immediately after The Morning Show on Arise TV, on May 25, I hit the expressway. I was curious. I also wanted to honour Chief Olusegun Osoba, after whom the new edifice is named. Chief Osoba may have been a two-time Governor (Social Democratic Party and Alliance for Democracy), he may be known today as a co-founder and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but his main bona fide is in journalism – the profession where he proved his mettle, and rose to become a living legend of the art and craft of newspaper reporting. At 82, Chief Osoba identifies himself first and foremost as a newspaper reporter. He was the man who as a Daily Times correspondent discovered the bullet-ridden body of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa in January 1966. He also reported the civil war. He was the only reporter of his time who had a telephone at home. He also had a Vespa scooter. He broke stories, gained many scoops and took the paths where angels of the trade feared to tread. Reporter, sub-editor, deputy editor, editor, General Manager, Managing Director from Daily Times to The Herald, to The Sketch newspaper and back to The Daily Times in 1984, Osoba’s story is well told in his autobiography, Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics which, in my view, is a must read. Osoba, first Nieman Fellow in Journalism from Nigeria, is highly revered, deservedly.
Governor Dapo Abiodun has built a befitting media work station to honour him. Even if they were not in the same political party, there is no other person more deserving of the honour. In the past week, as Prince Dapo Abiodun marks his second anniversary in office, he has been showcasing his achievements in various sectors of the state economy and how well he has fulfilled his campaign promises and delivered on them. I was asked to say a few words at the event, and I made it clear that I am impressed. Ethnic one-upmanship is the biggest problem in Ogun State. By playing neutral and liberal politics, Prince Abiodun has been able to stay above the fray.
The high moment of the event was when Chief Olusegun Osoba disclosed that the last time he got a good reception at the Ogun State Secretariat was his last day in office in 2003. For eight years, his immediate successor declared him a persona non grata. For another eight years, another successor fought him. And yet, 18 years later, he returned to see a Press Centre being commissioned in his honour. He said he wore an “aso etu”, a special Yoruba garment, to show how important the event was for him. Many lessons to be learnt from Osoba and Dapo Abiodun’s examples. Thank you, Governor Abiodun. Congratulations, Chief Osoba.
27-year-old Woman Found Dead In Her Flat With Missing Body Parts In Delta Community
An unidentified lady has been found dead in her apartment at Mosogar, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Her neighbours found her dead and her body parts missing after breaking into her room on Tuesday.
According to one of the neighbours who identified himself as Friday, the odour emanating from the direction of the lady’s room prompted them to break into her room.
He said they had to call the attention of the police to their discovery, according to Channels TV.
Friday said on the night of last Saturday, the 29-year-old lady brought in a man who left the same night.
He added that the lady had been missing since that Saturday night before her dead body was later found in her room.
“But when we began to perceive some foul odour emanating from the direction of her room, we started getting suspicious. This morning we informed the police and the door was forced open, only to find her corpse, with her breasts and private parts gone,” he said.
Spokesperson for the state police command, Edafe Bright confirmed the incident but added that it could not be ascertained that the victim was killed in her room.
He also said the identity of the victim was not known yet.