The House of Representatives has urged the federal government to return to “status quo ante” by reversing the termination of the contract between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS).
It also resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the legality or otherwise of the termination of the contract. The committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks.
This was sequel to the passage of a hotly contested motion sponsored by Hon. Diri Douye (PDP, Bayelsa).
Leading debate on the motion, Douye noted 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 INTELS collects revenue on behalf of the NPA.
He told the House 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.
According to him, 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 argued that the “implications of the termination of the contract on a 7000 Nigerians and their dependents, who are employees of INTELS Nigeria Limited since the inception of its services to NPA at the maritime sector”.
The lawmaker submitted that the basis for the termination of the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement was on the alleged illegality of the agreement cited the violation of some sections of the 1999 constitution (as amended) particularly on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of federal government.
He 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 Nigeria Ports Authority 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”
Also supporting the motion, Hon. Rita Orji (PDP, Lagos), said there is the need to probe the matter to provide a fair 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. He argued that if monopoly was the issue at stake, Dangote was having monopoly in many sectors of the nation’s economy too.
Similarly, Hon. Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), Hon. E.Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo) cautioned that the House should not take sides yet on the issue but instead set up an ad hoc committee to investigate and find out the truth.
But opposing the motion, Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos), advised that INTELS should rather seek redress in court. He said the house had no business looking into the issue. “If they have any problem with the government they should go to court. The motion should not come here,” Agunsoye said.
Before ruling on the motion, Speaker Yakubu Dogara who presided over the session cleared air on the issue of monopoly saying that “there is no country where monopoly or dominance of doing business is an offence”
According to Dogara, “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”, he stated.
When the motion was eventually put to vote, the ayes overwhelmed the nays.
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