SCANDAL: How SGF Boss Mustapha, Ex-NPA MD, Others Allegedly Used Proxies To Corner The Multi-Billion Naira CTN Contract

Certified documents obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission have shown that officials of the President Muhammadu Buhari Government may have used proxy companies to corner the much Cargo Tracking Contract, which is now a subject of bitter legal tussle.

Intriguing is the fact that they secured the contract, worth billions of Naira, without due diligence, as investigations reveal that four out of the five companies used were not registered with the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering, SCUML of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC’s, which tends to suggest that the government officials involved unduly influenced the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), whose duty it is to carry out due diligence. Only Velocity Nigeria Ltd was duly registered, according to checks. The four others companies, which were not endorsed by SCUML, as required, are Antasar Nigeria Ltd, Equal Logistics Ltd, Winslow Logistics Ltd and Sahams Crystal Investment Ltd. This was confirmed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a letter to solicitors of Donnington Nigeria Ltd, which was dated 30th March 2023.  It was in response to their inquiry after they had gone to court to challenge the sham award of the said CTN Contract.

This monumental abuse of office and breach of fiduciary position has left the country bleeding because, according to a Daily Trust report of October 31, 2022, over N84billion have been lost annually due to the inability of the scheme to take off as planned because of the legal battle this illegal award of the CTN contract had elicited. Recall that Donnington Nigeria Ltd, was earlier cleared by the Buhari administration for the CTN Contract before it was shortchanged by government functionaries, who ultimately awarded the lucrative contract to themselves, using bubble companies.

Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation since 2017, has been fingered as the main mastermind behind the sidetracking of the contract, after the go-ahead was given for it to be awarded to Donnington Ltd, which said it had in fact committed huge sums of money in pursuance of the approval given to it. Interestingly, Mustapha, who had legal education, was the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) before he was made the SGF. Further checks revealed that his family house, where he had grown up as a child, was used as the registered office address for Sahams Crystal Ltd. This goes to suggest that he is the beneficial owner of the company, as alleged. Noteworthy, is the fact that the transport minister, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo was Mustapha’s colleague at NIWA, who was General Manager at the time.

“Boss Mustapha hugely influenced his emergence as Transport minister,” a reliable source, who did not want his name in print said.

“He (Mustapha) had his sights set on the big contract in that ministry,” the source added.

Others alleged to have connived with the SGF in cornering the CTN deal are the Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rural Electrification Agency, Mr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, and the former Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, whose brother, Usman Aliyu, according to a certified true copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, is a director of Velocity Nigeria Limited, one of the company’s used by the trio in grabbing the CTN contract, in flagrant disregard for due process and code of conduct for public officers.

The Rural Electrification Agency boss was the managing director of Velocity when the contract was awarded, and still is because there was no official documentation of his resignation. For this alleged infraction, Donnington Ltd reported him to the Code of Conduct Bureau for contravening the code of conduct for holders of public office. According to one of the lawyers to Donnington, Ahmad and the other directors of the four other companies : Winslow Logistics, Equal Logistics, Sahams Crystal Investment and Antaser Nig Ltd would be arraigned for money laundering and breach of public procurement law before Justice James Kolawole Omotosho of the FCT High Court on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. This followed a petition written to the anti-graft agencies by Donnington Ltd.

An insider told CHECKPOINTCHARLEY that the late father of the REA boss was the lead consultant in PTF under Buhari as chairman, and was therefore colleagues to Buhari appointees, who are mainly former PTF staff. And that Hadiza Usman had allegedly used him to divert lucrative contracts while at the helm at the NPA. Also, it was gathered that she and Mustapha played a decisive role in getting him to be appointed the REA Managing Director. “But he forgot to resign his directorship at Velocity at the time they also used his company to get the CTN contract,” the source said.

Sabotage, high level corruption and the insatiable scramble for juicy contracts by top government officials, like hungry chicks in a ravaged poultry, has been mainly the reason why the CTN machinery set in motion by the federal government over fifteen years ago, had failed to grind, a transport industry stakeholder said. It would have been an electronic system of tracking and monitoring cargoes and other vessels along the Nigerian seas, the scheme is yet to fully take off. The system, if implemented, would allow the government to monitor incoming and outgoing ships through real time generation of advance information on ships involved in international voyages. Ghana, for example, with a population of 22million processes 12.6million container cargoes per annum. While Nigeria, with over 200 million people, processes yearly only about 1.5million cargoes. This suggests that lots of revenue, which would have accrued to the federal government, goes down the drain because many of the cargoes coming into the country are unaccounted for – another case of official corruption.

After many unsuccessful attempts to get the CTN scheme rolling since it was first muted by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2007, the Buhari Government reintroduced the project. But it got stalled again before it could take off, because it was said that some cabals in the presidency tried to hijack it by attempting to hoodwink President Muhammadu Buhari to ‘re-award’ the contract after Donnington had secured approval to go ahead with the project, following the president’s approval dated May 4, 2021 and relevant approvals from the various ministries and agencies.

The company, in a suit it filed in an Abuja High Court, said, as a result of the go-ahead, it expended over $3million for the purchase of equipment and items, set up a portal at $370,000, engaged foreign partners from the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and recruited staff through a human resource company.

But, according to the managing director of the company, Mohammed Sani, “After complying with all the requirements, the plaintiff/applicant (Donnington Nigeria Ltd) observed that the Ministry of Transportation was trying to introduce another company to render similar services.”

Attempts to get reactions to this story from the Transport Ministry, Office of the SGF, Mr. Ahmad and Messr. Usman had been unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report. An update would certainly be published once they respond.

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