Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, has claimed that he is not aware of the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
President Muhammadu Buhari approved Usman’s suspension on May 5, following a recommendation by Amaechi.
Following her suspension, the minister inaugurated an 11-member panel to probe all contracts awarded by the NPA since 2016 when Usman was appointed.
The NPA MD was initially accused of failing to remit surplus of the agency to the Consolidated Revenue Fund; an allegation she denied.
It was later reported that the panel inaugurated by Amaechi was tasked to investigate “insubordination allegation” against Usman.
In an interview with Arise TV on Monday, Amaechi denied knowledge of Usman’s suspension, saying she was only asked to “step aside”, pending the conclusion of the probe.
“I am not aware that I suspended Hadiza, I’m not the president. So I don’t have such power. That power rests with the president”, he said.
“I am not aware that Hadiza was suspended. What happened, I suspect, is that she was asked to step aside to enable investigation to be carried out on NPA, not on her.
“We are investigating NPA. At the conclusion of the investigation, all the reports will be forwarded to the president who would make a determination on the way forward”.
When asked how long it will take the panel to carry out the ongoing probe, the minister said he is not sure.
He accused the media of creating “too much noise” on the suspension of the NPA MD.
“The panel is not headed between the ministry of transport and office of the head of service. The office of the head of service contributed six persons including auditors and accountants, and the ministry of transport just brought five,” he stated.
“So it is a panel of 11 that has been instituted to investigate activities of NPA from 2016 till the present day.
“It is NPA that is under investigation. The managing director has just been asked to step aside pending the conclusion of the investigation. And when the investigation is concluded, the president will make a determination and decide what happens next.”