By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—Senators were, yesterday, divided over the alleged non-remittance of N177 billion operational surplus made by Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, into the consolidated federation account.

The Red Chamber

The disagreement came up when a member of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, which oversees NPA’s operations, Senator Mohammed Hassan (PDP Yobe South), drew the attention of the Senate to it.

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Senator Hassan, who raised a point of Order, citing Orders 42 and 52, submitted that against the spirit and provisions of the 1999 Constitution and extant laws of NPA, the agency kept to itself N177 billion operational surplus it made from accruing revenues in the 2017 fiscal year, without remitting it into the federation account.

According to him, the committee discovered that the agency, in its budget defence of the performance of the 2017 budget in April, got N303 billion as total operational revenue, out of which N125 billion was taken by it as operational cost as permitted by extant laws, but refused to remit the balance of N177 billion realised as surplus into the federation account .

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He said: “This to me, and by extension the Senate, should not be condoned because the committee discovered this seven months ago and ordered the agency to do the needful, which it has not done up till now.”

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Responding, Senate Deputy Majority leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), who cautioned the Senate against relying on the allegation made by Senator Hassan, said there were three categories of income derivable into accounts of any public agencies.

He advised the Senate that it would be premature to attach legislative seriousness to Senator Hassan’s allegation since the figures he quoted were not in the category of perceived income, drive income or accrued income.

He said: “Mr. President , as a lawyer, I studied taxation law. We should not be in haste to conclude on the submission Senator Hassan has just made.”

Also kicking against the allegations raised by Senator Hassan, Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima ( APC Zamfara West), who disassociated himself and other committee members from the allegation, said Senator Hassan did not raise such an issue at any of the committee’s sittings before raising the alarm on the floor of the Senate .

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He said: “Chairman of the committee, I am not aware of this allegation raised against NPA by Senator Hassan and I don’t think any other member of the committee is aware as well.”

To avoid further disagreement among the committee members on the alleged N177 billion scam, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP Abia North), urged the Senate leadership to compel the committee members to meet over it before bringing it up for general debate, in line with procedures and process of lawmaking.

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In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, directed the committee chairman to meet with members on the allegation and report back within two weeks.

Meanwhile, Senator Joshua Lidani(PDP, Gombe South), has defected to All Progressives Congress, APC.

The defection of Lidani, former Deputy Governor of Gombe State, was announced yesterday by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan.


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