Due process breached in terminating NPA/Intels contract–reps insist

Lawmakers have insisted that the Federal Government did not follow due process in terminating the contract between Nigerian Ports of Authority (NPA) and Intels.

Some members of the House of Representatives spoke with newsmen in Abuja.

The House of Representatives had ordered federal government to reverse the cancellation of NPA boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with Intels Nigeria.

The House had while considering a motion seeking the investigation into the contract termination by Hon. Diri Douye (PDP, Bayelsa) sought the maintenance of status quo, pending the outcome of findings by an ad-hoc committee that would be set up by the lower legislative chamber.

The legislators told newsmen that adherence to due process required that managements of NPA and Intels Nigeria sat together to review the contract if there were infractions.

They said it was wrong for one of the parties to take an action that would affect the other without consultations.

“If there is a contract between two people or parties and all of a sudden, there is a dispute, the most justifiable thing to do at this point is to go back to where you were, so that nobody is cheated, because in the first instance, there was an agreement.

“This is the reason we are asking the government to return to status quo on this matter,” said Mr Mohammed Sani Abdu (APC- Bauchi).

In her reaction, Mrs Owoidighe Ekpoattai (PDP-Akwa Ibom), said a similar action of the government, which she considered unconstitutional, had in the past caused uproar among workers of the jetty in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, where she said, several of the jetty workers lost their jobs when the facility was moved out of the community.

Regarding Intels Nigeria, Ekpoattai said the government would have resorted to dialogue to avert the job loss that is likely if this contract termination decision is not quickly reversed.

“Here, we are talking about job loss because I have got many experiences. When jetty in Ibeno in Akwa Ibom State was moved out of its community, it resulted to termination of appointments of skilled and unskilled labour.

“You know when there’s job loss, it could result to several crises like armed robberies and other forms of violence, but when people are gainfully employed, there will be reduction of criminal activities in the country.

“This time that we need peace, everything that needs to be done, would have been geared towards achieving peace. Dialogue would have been the best thing to do at this point.

“If Intels had faulted in its management of procedures of logistics in the shipping industry, and thus amounting to the need to terminate the contract, there should have been dialogue before the cancellation of the contract,” she said.

She regretted further that the government could take the decision at a time the firm was only 17 years into the 25-year contract and had obtained 900 million dollars loans, yet to be repaid, for its operations.

Concerned with the effects the government’s decision would have on investments, Mr Henry Ofongo (PDP- Bayelsa) said the cancellation of the contract without following ‘laid down procedures’ could scare away investors.

“We’re currently in a situation where we are looking for investors to come into the country and the ones that are already here should not be chased away.

“If there is any infraction that Intels have committed, there are ways to go about it. To singlehandedly sit down and cancel the contract that has been signed is not the right thing to do.

“There are laid down procedures to follow in terminating contractual agreements and if these procedures are not adhered to, like in this case, it will send wrong signals to investors,” Ofongo maintained.

Nonetheless, Gabriele Volpi, majority shareholder of maritime logistics company, Intels Nigeria Limited, has apologised to NPA and the Federal Government over the crisis that led to termination of the company’s pilotage agreement.

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