Written by Oluwakemi Dauda, Maritime Correspondent

Two companies have won multi-million dollars Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) contracts, The Nation has learnt.

But there are questions over the towage contracts. Some of the issues are:

•are these companies genuine?

•was due process followed in awarding the contracts? and

•who are the people behind the companies?

The award of the contracts to Messrs CTOW Terminal & Marine Services and Ibejige Services Limited, allegedly after President Goodluck Jonathan’s instruction, is causing concern among port regulators and operators.President-Goodluck-Jonathan

Sources close to the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) in Abuja said the award of the contracts by NPA to the two firms did not follow due process. It was also learnt that the companies are not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The contracts were meant for the provision of Third Party Towage Services (TPTS) at Warri and Onne ports pilotage districts.

The deals were approved by the President, according to sources, without proper investigation about the status of the companies.

The President’s approval, investigations revealed, was contained in an August 11, last year letter to the NPA through the Federal Ministry of Transport on August 14, 2014 – in three days (a record, said a source, considering the bureaucracy that slows down normal transactions.

The four firms approved for the contracts at Rivers, Calabar, Onne and Warri ports are: Messrs Slowater Nigeria Ltd, Port Harcourt, Messrs Global Spectrum Energy Services Ltd, Messrs Cyow Terminal & Marine Services, Have 1025-Scheldedijk, Belgium and Messrs Ibejige Services Ltd, which is said to be at Lekki Peninsula Scheme I.

The letters of award of contracts to the four companies were signed by the NPA General Manager, Procurement, T.S Izokun, an engineer, on behalf of its Managing Director, Habib Abdullahi.

The firms, it was learnt, won the contracts after the payment of N100,000 registration fee and $20, 000 licence fees to the NPA.

But, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), actingon a request made by The Nation, said it had no records of two of the four firms.

The Nation also discovered yesterday that Messrs Ibejige Services Ltd, which claimed to be on plot 16, Block 128B, New Creation Street, Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, has no physical presence in the area.

The address does not exist at Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1. But there is New Creation Street, off Remi Olowude Way, which is buried inside another location opposite Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1.

Plot 16, Block 128B, which the promoters of the company claimed to be its address does not seem to exist.

There are only 10 buildings and two empty plots on the street.

The only visible company on the street is on Plot 1, Block 128B, opposite New Creation Cathedral. Security officials and others on the street said Messrs Ibejige Services Ltd was not there.

The sacked NPA Managing Director announced in March, last year, during the introduction of the Electronic Ship Entry in Lagos that the authority would partner the private sector for provision of towage services at the Port Harcourt, Onne, Warri and Calabar ports.

The discovery that two of the four companies were unregistered, it was learnt, stunned senior officials of the ministry, who questioned how the companies were pre-qualified for the projects.

One of the ministry’s senior officials, who craved anonymity, said the award of the contracts to the two unregistered companies was against national interest.

The official said: “Was the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) involved before the President gave his approval and the contract was awarded by NPA? What was the role of the supervising minister in this regard? Answers to these questions are very essential because if I am approving a contract to any company and my minister and the officials of the agency cannot verify for me whether the company is registered; then I don’t know what they are doing as the head of that organisation.

“If the President, who awarded the contract did not know, the Managing Director of NPA ought to seek confirmation from CAC and his head of legal department.

“With the award of this contract, the President, his minister and the sacked managing director of NPA have created a wrong impression before the in-coming administration that many other unregistered companies got multimillion dollar contracts under the out-going administration to siphon public fund.”

Also yesterday, The Nation learnt that the unregistered companies belong to “a powerful woman”, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). She is said to have the ears of the Presidency.

The source alleged that “the ghost contract companies did not have certificates of incorporation or tax receipts. Neither were they registered with the ministry”.

Another official, who spoke with The Nation under the condition of anonymity, said the methods adopted in awarding the contract were alarming.

He noted that the towage service, which was the core function of NPA after ports were concessioned, was awarded by its management after receiving presidential approval without verifying the companies to which these contracts were awarded.

The official urged the in-coming Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led-administration to investigate the method adopted in awarding the contracts by the management of NPA and the services so far rendered by the companies that won the contracts.

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