On-going Senate probe into the activities of the ministry of transportation between 1999 and 2008 is now engulfed in allegations that it requested for bribes from heads of agencies and organisations that have so far appeared before it.
The committee which is headed by Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has been sitting for almost one month and many government functionaries, including the minister of state, water transportation, Prince Okechukwu Emeka has already appeared before it.
Others who have also been drilled by the committee are: some past and incumbent chief executives of agencies, private sector participants in the port system and the workers union, among others.
The floodgate for allegations was opened after the minister appeared before the committee about three weeks ago and passed the bucks to each serving head of the agencies to clear the air on the questions that were been asked by the committee.
Agencies concerned included: Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Inland Waterways Authourity (NIWA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. Shipping Position Weekly sources who were at the committee’s sittings throughout confirmed the allegations that some organisations actually paid their ways into having a smooth sail in the hands of the Senators while others who were not prepared to play ball had it rough.
According to him, the outcome of the probe may be affected by these allegations which reportedly first reared its head after the appearance of the director general, NIMASA, Dr Ade Dosunmu penultimate week.
The same allegation has trailed the appearance of the terminal operators under the aegis of Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria which was alleged to be the first group to succumb. The group is the umbrella body for all terminal operators in the nation’s seaports.
Sources alleged that some agencies parted with as much as =N=50Million, while the terminal operators were alleged to have also paid a huge sum to have their cases mitigated.
A senior member of the shipping community whose opinion on the matter was sought by our correspondent simply expressed shock adding that it was no longer a hidden fact.
“Do you not know that the managing director of NPA was drilled for about five hours because he was not ready to play ball, did you not see that some chief executives were royal treatment unjustifiably”.
Shipping Position Weekly confirmed authoritatively last week that it was after the committee’s chairman, Senator Lokpobiri had referred to the terminal operators in Lagos as ‘ghost’ that the terminal operators organised what our source referred to as little PR.
Efforts to get some members of the committee especially Senator Argungu who is a former employee of NPA and the committee’s chairman, Senator Lokpobiri did not yield any result.