• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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NPA boss, Bala Usman, petitions IG, DSS over attack on her safety at N/Assembly

Hadiza Bala Usman

Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has called for investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of the harassment and humiliation to which she was said to have been subjected to, on the premises of the National Assembly on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.

Bala Usman, in a petition addressed to the Inspector General of Police, the President of the Senate and director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), explained that she was at the Senate on the said date to honour the invitation of the Joint Committee on Navy, Marine Transport and Finance to its public hearing on the controversial Safe Anchorage Area (SAA) of the Lagos Ports.

According to a statement signed by Jatto Adams, general manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the NPA, the visit to NASS, followed a motion on ‘illegal security activities by Ocean Maritime Solutions Limited (OMSL) at the Safe Anchorage Area of Lagos Ports and the need to investigate their excesses.’

Moved by Senator George Sekibo during the Senate plenary on November 7, 2019, Bala Usman explained that the committee had invited other parties, which included the Nigerian Navy and the OMSL.

“In the course of the session, Idahosa Wells Okunbo of OMSL, having made his submission, stormed out visibly angry breathing fire and brimstone. Following his outburst and abrupt exit, the chairman of the Joint Committee closed the session,” the petition reads, according to the statement.

Bala Usman further wrote, alleging that: “On leaving the meeting room, some hoodlums that accompanied Okunbo to the hearing, ambushed me at the exit door and tried to push their way towards me to physically attack me, raining abuses on me that I was taking food away from them and their boss, and that they will find me and destroy me.”

Usman explained that it took the efforts of her security detail and Sekonte Davies, executive director, Marine and Operations of the NPA, and security personnel deployed from the office of the Deputy Senate President for Usman and her entourage to leave the premises unhurt.

While calling for the full investigation of the incident with the intent of bringing the culprits to face the full wrath of the law, Usman said she takes the direct threats to her life issued by these hoodlums seriously.

Bala Usman expressed shock at how these hoodlums gained access into the premises of the National Assembly and the audacity of attacking representatives of the Federal Government, who were at the NASS on invitation, an act which she described as the height of impunity and disrespect.

Recall that the NPA recently abolished the operations of the safe anchorage and its consequent charges on shipping companies in order to save cost for ships calling Lagos Ports.

According to the NPA, safe anchorage operations pile up costs to shipping companies as vessels anchored in the area were expected to pay as much as $2,000 for the first day and $1,500 for the subsequent days.

Meanwhile, the management of OMSL has distanced itself from any involvement in the alleged physical attack on the NPA boss at the National Assembly.

Chuma Adogu, general manager, Business Development and Government Relations of OMSL, described the allegation as false and a figment of imagination of those laying such an allegation.

He said that the chairman of OMSL, Wells Okunbo, always served the nation diligently in various capacities and could not have sponsored thugs to attack the NPA boss.

At the hearing, Okunbo said that prior to the SAA contract, maritime investors were avoiding Nigeria, saying SAA brought safety to the nation’s maritime territory.

He also described the sudden stoppage of the contract by the NPA, without regards to OMLS’s investment, was not only embarrassing to his person, but also capable of taking Nigeria back to pre-SAA days.