BEVERLY HILLS, October 19, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to immediately reverse the termination of the Contract between the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Integrated Logistics Services, Intels, a firm linked to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Diri Duoye under matters of public importance during the plenary session presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the House resolved to raise an ad-hoc committee to ascertain if due process was followed before the termination of the contract.
The House then directed the authorities to maintain the status quo ante pending when the committee would turn in its report in two weeks.
Leading the debate on the issue, Douye (PDP: Yenagoa), harped on the need to ascertain whether the termination of the contract was not in breach of the law, stating that INTELS is responsible for the provision of logistics and facilities in the maritime sector of the country based on the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement whereby the firm collects revenue on behalf of the NPA.
The Rep member told his colleagues that the agreement included the construction and operation of Apapa, Warri, Federal Ocean Terminal Port and Onne in Port Harcourt which INTELS spent $900 million.
He stated that INTELS secured a loan to finance the construction and operation of the Apapa, Warri and Port Harcourt terminals, adding that “INTELS has carried out the services for 17 years since the agreement was signed between NPA and INTELS in 2000.”
Douye called on the House to look at “implications of the termination of the contract on 7,000 Nigerians and their dependents, who are employees of INTELS Nigeria Limited since the inception of its services to NPA at the maritime sector.”
He stressed that the basis for the termination of the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement was on the alleged illegality of the agreement cited in the violation of some sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) particularly on the Treasury Single Account, TSA, policy of Federal Government.
The lawmaker expressed worry that the Federal Government has sealed all the terminals as a result of the termination of the contract without due process of consultation with INTELS before the decision to seal the terminals.
He said there was need to ascertain the process of termination of contracts between NPA and INTELS.
Supporting the motion, Hon. Ekpo Attah (PDP, Akwa Ibom), said it was important to investigate the matter, arguing that “status quo” should be maintained.
“INTELS employs a lot of people. I submit that this motion is very pertinent and INTELS should be returned to status quo,” he said.
Also supporting the motion, Hon. Rita Orji (PDP, Lagos), said there is the need to probe the matter to provide a fair hearing and hear both sides. “If you want to terminate a contract, there are ways of going about it. I’m supporting the investigation – we are talking about 7,000 workers and we complain about unemployment.
“Do we have a Nigerian company that is ready to take over what INTELS is doing? We should hear both sides so that there will be fair hearing on both sides.”
Hon. Serguis Ogun (PDP, Edo), in his submission, said INTELS is one of the highest employers of labour in the country and anything that affects it should not be taken lightly.
Other lawmakers spoke on the issue. Hassan Saleh (Benue, PDP) said it was saddening that an indigenous firm was being treated in such a disdainful manner. He wondered why the authorities refused to renegotiate the contract with the company before terminating it.
Samuel Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) said it beat his imagination for the authorities to revoke a contract of over 17 years, alleging that there was more to the decision than met the eye.
But opposing the motion, Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos), advised that INTELS should rather seek redress in court, adding that the House had no business looking into the issue. “If they have any problem with government, they should go to court. The motion should not come here”.
However, Olurotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos) and Ali Madaki (APC, Kano) spoke in support of the decision by NPA to terminate the contract.
Madaki, who cited constitutional provisions, argued that the government had the power to terminate any contractual relationship between any of its agencies and any firm over issues relating to the payment of money into the consolidated revenue fund.
Before calling for a voice vote which favoured the motion, the Speaker, Dogara urged the lower chamber to ensure that the law was not breached by either the government or INTELS on the issue at stake.
On the issue of monopoly, he stated that “there is no country where monopoly or dominance of doing business is an offence.
“Some businesses are better done with monopoly. But it is only abuse of the dominance position that is an offence. There are so many monopolies in Nigeria. For example, DSTV is there.”
When the motion was eventually put to vote, the ayes overwhelmed the nays.