Bala-Usman: Amaechi drops ‘unremitted’ N165bn claim, instructs panel to investigate MD for ‘insubordination’

…’Disband Investigative  Panel’, Katsina youths urge Buhari

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has made a U-turn, as the Panel of Enquiry he set up to investigate the alleged shortfall in operating surpluses by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) under the leadership of the suspended MD/CEO, Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman.

It was gathered that the Panel will now probe her for insubordination, as against the earlier claim of not remitting operating surplus of N165 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR) account.

This comes as the youths in Katsina State, under the auspices of ‘Katsina Youth for Sustainable Change’, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to disband the 11-man investigative panel inaugurated by Amaechi to probe Bala-Usman.

A member of the administrative panel told newsmen yesterday that the focus would now be “insubordination”.

According to the source, “If you look at the terms of reference properly, we are to examine and investigate compliance with the communication channel as obtained in the public service. Insubordination is not a small offence.”

The panel member accused her of bypassing the minister and dealing directly with the president despite a “clear reporting hierarchy”.

Amaechi, who is one of the very few ministers with direct access to Buhari since 2015, has denied allegations that he was fighting a personal war with Usman, whom he nominated for the position in 2016 after working with her in the APC Presidential Campaign Council.

The ‘cold war’ between the duo was a result of the renewal of $1.5 billion channel management contracts in which the minister is said to have gone against a competitive bidding process in favour of companies nominated by him.

Meanwhile, some youths in Katsina State under the auspices of ‘Katsina Youth for Sustainable Change’, have called on Buhari to disband the 11-man investigative panel inaugurated by Amaechi.

The youths, through their counsel, E.O. Obunadike, at a press conference in Katsina yesterday, said the NPA boss was suspended from office without constitutional rights to fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

They described the Investigative Panel as a ‘Kangaroo Board of Inquiry’, single-handedly picked by Amaechi “from his cronies in order to unjustly nail his victim (Bala-Usman)”.

The youths equally condemned the suspension of Bala-Usman, describing it as unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional.

Obunadike said the suspension of Bala-Usman contravened the Approved Disciplinary Procedure Against Chief Executive Officers of Federal Government parastatals, Agencies and Departments as approved by President Buhari on May 2020.

According to him, the constitution of the investigative panel by Amaechi against the suspended NPA MD runs contrary to the principles of fair hearing as contained in the Nigerian Constitution, and violates democratic norms and practices.

He urged Buhari and Malami to immediately intervene in what he termed the flagrant breach of the fundamental rights of Bala-Usman.

On her part, Hadiza Bala-Usman, on Thursday said that the truth will always triumph.

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