The Federal Government is further investigating the unremitted Value Added Tax deductions to Federal Inland Revenue Service by the Nigerian Ports Authority under the leadership of the suspended NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman.
It was gathered on Saturday that the NPA during the tenure of Bala-Usman failed to remit VAT deductions running into billions of naira and in foreign currency denominations to the FIRS.
“There are unremitted deductions to FIRS that include N3,667,750,470; $148,845,745.04; €4,891,449.50; and £252,682.14,” an impeccable source at the Federal Ministry of Transportation, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the nature of the matter, stated.
Saturday PUNCH had reported that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was probing the alleged non-remittance of N165.32bn operating surplus by the Nigerian Ports Authority.
The report stated that this might not be unconnected to the recent suspension of the ports authority’s boss, Hadiza Bala-Usman.
Transportation ministry sources stated on Saturday that the NPA was also being investigated for contravening the policies of government with respect to the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility.
“The NPA under Hadiza contravened government policy on the implementation of CSR projects/ programmes and its records relating to CSR fell short of the level of compliance with the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” the source stated.
The official alleged that the Presidency was shocked that there was no, or very scanty evidence of compliance with public procurement Act and that most of the CSR projects/programmes were inflated.
“The Presidency noticed that delivery of CSR items were not accompanied with delivery letters and that in most cases, there was no evidence of actual items delivered and who signed for them,” the official stated.
The source added, “Bala-Usman must tell Nigerians why and how N4.2bn was spent in 2017 as against N29m in 2016 (on CSR), an increase of 14,310 per cent.”
The official further alleged that only between 2016 and 2018, at least N20bn of NPA’s financial transactions could not be traced, documented or explained.
On the concern that there was a procedural breach in asking Bala-Usman to step aside for the investigation to commence, the source described this as “completely wrong.”
The official said, “Constitutionally, the President has the power to hire or fire any of his appointees at any point in time.
“In this case, she wasn’t even fired. She was just asked to step aside for an investigation to take place. And this was done by the President and not the minister.”
But Bala-Usman in a letter, with reference MD/17/MF/VOL-XX/541, dated May 5, 2021 and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, said the NPA was aware of Buhari’s approval for the FMoT to conduct an audit of the accounts of the NPA and its remittances to the CRF.
When contacted to speak on whether the transportation ministry followed due process before the suspension of Bala-Usman, the spokesperson, FMoT, Eric Ojiekwe, did not answer calls to his mobile phone and had yet to reply a text message sent to him on the matter.