The House of Representatives yesterday waded into the ongoing controversy between the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Intels Nigeria Limited.
The House, while adopting a motion by Rep Diri Douye (PDP, Bayelsa), resolved to constitute an ad hoc panel to probe the circumstances that led to NPA’s decision to terminate an existing contract between it and Intels.
The House said NPA should reverse the termination of the contract with Intels, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The motion caused serious division among the lawmakers, with a number of them opposing it. But it scaled through in the end.
Douye said the agreement included the construction and operation of Apapa, Warri, Federal Ocean Terminal Port and Onne in Port Harcourt, which he said Intels spent $900 million on.
However, he said, NPA terminated the contract in a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), on September 27, saying the action was based on an alleged illegality of the agreement.
The action, the lawmaker said, has negative consequences on the Nigerians working at Intels and their dependents.
In supporting the motion, Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), said the House must intervene in the matter as Intels staff were already protesting at the ports.
Similarly, other lawmakers such as Hassan Saleh (APC, Benue), Simon Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) supported the motion.
But opposing the motion, Rep Rotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos) said the House should leave the matter for the judiciary to decide, calling on Intels to go to court.
Also, Rep Ahmad Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina) said there appeared to be monopoly on the part of Intels as all other competitive companies folded up after the agreement was signed.
“Intels as we see today is not even owned by Nigerians. The ownership structure of the company is purely foreign, but they use Nigerians as fronts and killed many indigenous companies operating in the same industry,” he said.
Rep Aliyu Sani Madaki (APC, Kano), said Intels’ refusal to pay the collected revenue to the government coffers through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) went contrary to Section 81 of the constitution which provides that “all revenues or other monies made on behalf of government shall be paid to an account known as the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federation.”
But Speaker Yakubu Dogara responded by saying there is nowhere in the world that monopoly is an offence, saying “some businesses are better carried out in a monopolistic environment.”