Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has promised to pay the embattled tally clerks and dockworkers currently fighting for their wages and all outstanding arrears of wages not later than December 15, when the controversial contract would be terminated.
The NPA Executive Director, Marine and Operations of NPA, David Omonibeke who indicated this, also told his audience comprising of a joint representatives of government agencies and stevedoring companies, that the Authority was tired of intermittent work stoppages and was therefore determined to see the workers paid.
The meeting had in attendance, representatives of NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, terminal operators, stevedoring companies and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, in attendance at the meeting.
“Our meeting is to enable the agencies, the ministry, to make inputs on the best way forward.
“So we hope to get positive answers,’’ highlighted Omonibeke, noting that his interaction with them would be a continuous one, thereby leaving no room further short-changing of government revenue.
“Government is making efforts that before the expiration of the contract, the right organisations or the terminal operators would be responsible for payment of the services of tally clerks and on-board security men.
“Bills are processed and the ports authority wants to make sure that before the contract ends, it will be able to sort out the outstanding bills before Dec. 15″, he stated further.
Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Dr Calistus Obi, lauded attendees for baring their minds in the overall interest of the maritime industry; and commended the regulators for approaching issues from professional angles, especially in view of its enabling Act.
“Our interest is for everybody to operate within the ambit of our laws.
“NIMASA’s position is clear. It is predicated on Section 37, Sub-Section 1, A, B, C, D, of the NIMASA Act which mandated us to intervene on issues relating to dispute on welfare and wages of dockworkers in any ports in Nigeria.
“We have regulatory powers which include sanctions; where the dockworkers fail,’’ Obi stated, just as Comrade Bolaji Sunmola, the President of the National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC) noted that the assembly was meant to address the issue of whether tally clerks should stay or not.
“Our position still remains that payment should be made as and when due and that NPA should be responsible for the payment of tally clerks and on-board security men,’’ Sunmola posited, maintaining the body was going to hold the NPA to its pledge of paying stevedores of offsetting the outstanding 60% arrears, because the 40 % so far paid was peanuts.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos and presided over by Justice Rita-Ofili Ajumogobia was told that a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Raymond Temisan Omatseye, actually approved the procurement of Black Berry Smart phones to a company that was not pre-qualified for the contract.
Omatseye is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on charges bordering on contract variation and bid rigging.
In a cross examination, EFCC counsel, Godwin Obla, SAN, told the court that even though a shortlisted company, Marine Gold Services bided for the phones at the cost of N84million, Omatseye gave his approval to Daniel Holdings Limited at an inflated rate of N129million, even though the company sent in a bid for N100 million.
“A mysterious name magically showed up to bid for a contract that it was not pre-qualified for, and Omatseye chose to approve the contract for that supply to the mysterious company, Daniel Holdings limited, in excess of the amount that the mysterious company bided for”, Obla said.
But Omatseye quickly informed the court that the contract was eventually cancelled.
Obla further told the court that contrary to Omatseye’s claim, that he wasn’t privy to the document that stipulated the various threshold allowed a Director General by the Federal Government, a circular dated March 11, 2009, which emanated from the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation was circulated to that effect on a date that preceded the contract award dates.
“The heading on this document reads: Implementation Of Approved Revised Threshold For Service-Wide Application To The Federal Ministry Of Petroleum For Expenditure Related To The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Procurement Methods And Thresholds Of Application And The Composition Of Tenders Boards.
The witness told the court that he became aware of his threshold as Director General in August 2010, but the circular was in 2009 that is why I am bringing it in as exhibit and cross -examination gives me the opportunity to do that. This document therefore being a certified true copy, I therefore tender it in this matter”, Obla said.
The court then admitted the document as exhibit.
Still on the BlackBerry procurement, Obla again asked Omatseye “did you advertise properly for the Blackberry contract on the NIMASA website and notice board as well as in the newspaper? And if you did, where is the advert for the Blackberry procurement?’ But Omatseye’s response was “I do not have it”.
Obla then asked Omatseye “Do you know that if you do not advertise properly for others to participate appropriately, you have rigged the bid?”
Omatseye insisted that he ensured that extant laws were followed and that due processe was observed.
“We ensured that everything went publicly”, he said.
When asked again if he got the approval of the Parastatals Tenders Board or the Ministerial Tenders Board, Omatseye again responded that he did not.
Justice Rita-Ofili Ajumogobia then adjourned to December 8 and 9, 2015, for the prosecution to conclude its cross-examination and for the defence counsel Barr. E. D. Onyeke to re-examine the witness.

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