The controversy surrounding the operation of Calabar Channel Management Company (CCM) is far from over and is already taking its toll on the workers. CCM Managing Director, Bart Van Eenoo. told journalists weekend that the staff of the company have not been paid for more than three years because the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has neither approved the salary payment nor honoured invoices for dredging contracts carried out by the firm.
CCM is a special purpose vehicle formed by NPA and Niger-Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited. NPA is CCM’s majority shareholder with 60% stake while NPA’s Managing Director is the Chairman of the CCM board.
NPA has been having a running battle with Niger-Global over the legality of the contract and has consequently refused to honour invoices from CCM.
Eeno also accused NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman of media trial.
He said NPA under Usman has been flouting its contractual agreement with Niger-Global over CCM as well as directives by the Presidency and the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
Reacting to media reports that NPA has terminated the JV agreement because it did not follow due process, Eeno said, “Is the NPA now above the presidency, its supervisory ministry – Ministry of Transport and other statutory bodies that it can wake one night to say it has terminated a contract vetted and approved by these bodies? This is a huge joke.”
He said the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) vide a letter referenced BPP/S.1/CID/14/VOL.1/088, dated August 15, 2014 and signed by the then Director General, Emeka Ezeh, approved the project.
Eenoo said the letter titled: RE: Contract for the Maintenance Dredging Between Niger-Global and Technical Company and the NPA, reads: “This is to refer to the Federal Ministry of Transport letter Reference No. TPROC/NPA/P/67/2011/1/314 dated August 11, 2014. The Bureau has no objection to the implementation of the project as approved by His Excellency, Mr. President.”
According to him, what the NPA MD is probably relying on is an earlier response by BPP to an initial petition by the former Board Chairman of the NPA, Tony Anenih, to the presidency against the project which then President Goodluck Jonathan referred to the BPP which reportedly gave a ‘No Objection Certificate’ and advised that the complaint by Anenih was merely a personal difference which it said should not affect the integrity of the project.
Anenih was also said to have withdrawn the petition.
The CCM boss stated that the contract went through the necessary approvals and vetting by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before it was finally sealed.
Eeno challenged Hadiza Bala Usman to make public the purported letter from the BPP advising against the contract.
In any case, he said, there is a clause in the contract stating grounds of termination, which CCM has not violated.
He urged the NPA MD to stop the continuous media trial of CCM and do the needful for the Calabar channel dredging to continue by “paying our invoices to enable us resume operations because all the equipment and personnel deployed for the project under the JV Agreement are currently on ground, accruing demurrage which contractually, the federal government is bound to pay”.