‘Our Dollar Accounts Is Backed By FG’ — NPA Denies Operating Secret Offshore Accounts

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Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says it operates two USD-denominated domiciliary accounts with official safeguards backed by the federal government, thus, shielded from looting.

NPA said this in a statement on Wednesday signed by Ibrahim Nasiru, general manager, corporate and strategic communications, NPA.

The statement comes on the heels of a publication accusing the authority of running two secret offshore accounts, which have been allegedly looted.

NPA, however, dismissed the claims as “both false and malicious”, adding that its two accounts were approved by the federal government and transparently run, in accordance with agreed official safeguards emplaced by the office of the accountant general through the CBN and the TSA policy of the federal government of Nigeria against possible infractions and looting.

NPA said it received approval to open two accounts for service boats pilotage revenue from the office of the accountant general of the federation in a letter dated August 26, 2016.

“The OAGF approved the opening of the accounts which were to be opened in Zenith Bank and Fidelity Bank with their correspondent foreign banks as Citibank N.A. in London and New York respectively for the purposes of collecting service boats pilotage revenue accruing to the NPA,” it said.

‘Our Dollar Accounts Is Backed By FG’ — NPA Denies Operating Secret Offshore Accounts

“As of the time the request for approval was made, the class of revenue was being collected by Integrated Logistics Services Limited (INTELS) on behalf of the NPA from inception of the managing agent relationship which dates back to 1996.

“There was a management agency relationship between INTELS and the NPA, which gave INTELS the responsibility to monitor service boat operations and collect revenue from such operations on behalf of the NPA at an agreed commission.

“Both NPA and INTELS rely on the provision in the executed agreement to have access to view the inflow into the accounts for ease of reconciliation and to enable it to determine online real-time amounts paid by clients and the value of the invoice to send to the NPA for payment of their management services.

“On a monthly basis, there were hundreds of payments for service boat operations that make payments directly into INTELS bank account.”

It further explained that on a periodic basis, INTELS remitted a portion of the revenue collected to the NPA and retained a significant portion in its vault, comprising commission on revenue and cost of Onne phase 4B expansion project through amortisation.

NPA added that its management also conducted a thorough review of the executed management agency agreement it entered into with INTELS and felt the urgent need to open revenue accounts dedicated to the collection of revenue from service boats operations based on certain parameters.

The parameters, it said, included, among others: to ensure that government revenues no longer reside in the vaults of private operators or companies; to ensure seamless reconciliation of revenue collection from service boats operations as there were hundreds of entries per month; to enthrone accountability and transparency in the management of revenue generation and collection from service boats operations.

“The management also wishes to state that all the supposed assertions and innuendos in the news report as regards secrecy and diversion of funds in the accounts are nothing but spurious and laughable concoctions and disingenuous misinformation about happenings in the NPA in the fertile imaginations of the author of the unconscionable report,” the authority added.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the management states categorically that there was no how the funds in the accounts could have been secretly diverted or privatised as significant safeguards had been put in place by the federal government.”

It added that a letter of approval from the accountant-general stipulated modalities.

Part of the modalities was that the NPA would operate collection accounts only with two commercial banks to be designated as “transit accounts”.

“Balances in these accounts will be swept daily into the designate treasury single account (TSA) revenue sub-accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or as mutually agreed by all parties,” NPA added.

“On no account should withdrawals be made from these revenue accounts.

“Participatory Banks and INTELS will write formally to the NPA to demand their collection charges on monthly basis or as may have been agreed with them.

“The NPA, upon due confirmation, reconciliation, and necessary due diligence, will forward the request to the office of the account-general of the federation for payment to parties.”

NPA added that there were additional check mechanisms put in place with the banks to provide internet banking for the service boat revenue collection to enable ‘view-only’ and printing capabilities of the statements of accounts by over twenty top management staff members of the NPA.

It maintained that the specious report about two persons looting the NPA’s “so-called secret accounts” could not have been possible.