The Nigerian Ports Authority has debunked the claim by a whistle-blower, John Okupurhe, that it operated a secret Unity Bank account, with a balance of $1bn in violation of the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account policy.
This was as Okupurhe demanded payment of commission on the allegedly exposed money from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation in line with the Federal Government’s whistle-blowing policy.
On Monday, a coalition of civil society organisations in the South-South threatened to sue the Federal Government over the refusal to pay Okupurhe his commission for exposing the alleged secret bank account with $1bn balance.
The civil society organisations, under the auspices of South-South Anti-Corruption Watchdog, on Monday in Benin City, Edo State, vowed to expose those behind the $1bn and ensure that Okupurhe was paid his commission.
It had earlier been reported on saturday that Okupurhe wrote a letter to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), accusing the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), of refusing to pay him his reward after exposing over $1bn hidden in the bank.
The National Coordinator of SACW, Kokori Edjegba, said on Monday it was shocking that aides of the President were making a mockery of his administration’s anti-corruption fight.
Edjegba said government’s attitude would prevent others from coming forward with authentic information about stolen cash or exposing corruption in public service.
He added that it was wrong for the AGF’s office to have allowed the issue to get to the public because Okupurhe might be exposed to unnecessary danger.
Okupurhe had said he gave the office of the AGF information about a cloned account with the NPA which was being used to illegally collect revenue from vessels by the signatories who were no longer in the service of the NPA.
He said the information he gave to the AGF “led to the exposure of the hidden/concealed funds in Unity Bank Plc to the tune of $1,034,515, 000.”
But reacting to Okupurhe’s claim, the office of the AGF said in a statement that government only pays whistle-blowers, whose information lead to successful recovery of illicit funds and not for mere tracing or exposure of suspected illegitimate funds.
Meanwhile, the NPA, on Monday, denied the existence of any such account warehousing $1bn as alleged by Okupurhe.
In a statement by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams, the NPA contended that the Unity Bank account number, 0013680344, which the whistle-blower claimed that the NPA operated did not exist.
Adams said Unity Bank had in a letter denied the existence of such an account.
He said, “The NPA operates an account with Unity Bank Plc with account number: 0013670344, with a total sum of $1,057,772.03, as of December 4, 2019 and not $1,034,515,000.00, as alleged by the petitioner.
“However, the NPA account has not been in operation since August 27, 2010 due to a suit, marked FHC/L/CS/582/2010, Garnishee Order Nisi in Aminu Ibrahim & Co & Anor. Vs. Nigerian Ports Authority, where a garnishee order was placed on it, following a case, which went from the Federal High Court to the Supreme Court over a period of eight years.
“Upon the determination of the case at the Supreme Court, the judgment creditors continued with the garnishee process which resulted in the credit of the amount $1,057,772.03 in favour of Suit No: FHC/L/CS/582/2010 Garnishee Order Nisi- Aminu Ibrahim & Co & Anor. Vs. Nigerian Ports Authority on December 4, 2019, in line with the garnishee order absolute.
“It is therefore obvious that there is no cloned account as speculated in the alleged whistle-blowing effort of Mr Okpurhe.”