Corruption In Nigerian Ports Authority As EFCC Indict Managing Director, Mohammed Bello Koko Over Money Laundering

Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has come under public scrutiny in recent times. This has been attributed to the prevalence of unwholesome practices perpetuated by the agency’s leadership. 

 

An investigative report released recently by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission found Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the NPA guilty of being involved in N829 million fraud through kickbacks and money laundering activities. The EFCC probe report exclusively obtained in April revealed that Koko after being investigated was found to have received N829 million from NPA contractors, and in cash sums from individuals and companies.

 

“The EFCC carried out a financial profiling of Koko in August 2021 and found out that the NPA MD worked with an associate, Ali Amin Abubakar and had benefitted from awards of contracts totalling N1,107,654,133 from the Rivers State Government and others,” it read.

 

At the time the report was done, Koko was the acting Managing Director of the NPA. Following the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of NPA by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency announced Koko as her replacement in an acting capacity. Koko was previously the director of finance and administration at NPA. Buhari in February 2022 confirmed Koko as the substantive managing director of the NPA.

“Consequently, the foregoing strongly infers the subject’s and associates’ complicity in acts of abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds, fraud and money laundering,” the EFCC report said.

In the introduction section, the EFCC probe report said, “The Directorate received information that the acting NPA MD, Koko was involved in receiving kickbacks from NPA contractors and was involved in money laundering activities. Mohammed Koko is the current MD of the NPA.

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“From 2005 to 2015, he worked at the Zenith Bank PLC in Port Harcourt, where he rose to the position of Assistant General Manager before being appointed as the NPA’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration.”

“During the term of former Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, he was also the designated Zenith Bank account officer for the Rivers State Government. According to reports, Mohammed Koko was brought before a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt by the EFCC in 2009 together with three other top officials of Zenith Bank on charges of fraud totalling N3.6 billion,” the probe report further revealed.

 

The report noted that his financial profile showed that he had several accounts in five banks. The EFCC went on to analyse Koko’s bank accounts and the amounts of money in inflow and outflow which all confirmed the alleged fraudulent acts of the NPA boss.

 

However, a source who is a top official of the agency questioned President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to fire Koko despite the indictment.

 

According to the source, the former banker had continued his “sharp practices, especially in granting concessions and waivers at the nation’s seaport” after his confirmation by the President.

 

“The earlier indictment was when he was acting MD of NPA. Since his confirmation by President Buhari as substantive Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in February, Koko has further entrenched himself in corrupt practices that run into billions of naira, which has affected the agency’s revenue. 

 

“As stated in the EFCC report, Mohammed Bello Koko has designated accounts he uses for collecting revenue at the seaports. Despite the indictment, he still uses these accounts.

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“There is no way the revenue of the NPA would improve with the unwholesome practices perpetuated by the MD and his cronies. Most times we marvel at the type of concessions he grants without recourse to the implication of such to the organisation’s finances.

 

“It is common knowledge that those in charge of revenue collection are called the Koko boys. They are untouchable and are from a certain religion and ethnic nationality. They decide who pays what and to where. Most times, they generate more monies for the MD than the NPA.

 

“On several occasions, attempts have been made to seek explanations on the discrepancies, but it always ends up in the trash can because the MD has agents everywhere that gather information for him.” 

 

The source further alleged that under Koko, the NPA stands the risk of insolvency, adding that the MD is notorious for awarding contracts in dollars, and the companies in question are either linked to him or his paymasters. 

 

“The relevant anti-graft agencies should again beam their searchlight on the finances of the NPA. I can bet that the revelations would be mind-boggling. The first report will be child’s play. I can make an excuse for the MD because of the pressure from different quarters for him to deliver. And you know what happens in a country like ours, for you to keep your job, you must do the bidding of some people.

 

“In his case, he had the backing of some vested interest before he got the job after the sacking of the former MD. We all know how he got to NPA. He was an account officer for a former governor and minister. He was brought in to serve their interests. So he has to continue to service these interests, which comes with a price.

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“He awards contracts indiscriminately; most times these contracts are inflated with 100% upfront payment. We keep wondering why the President remains mute on his matter, could it be because of the former Minister? It was this same man that recommended the sacking of the former MD over alleged corrupt practices. Unfortunately, Koko was the Director of Finance to her. 

 

 

“But the same President Buhari appointed Koko who released all the funds his predecessor was alleged to have mismanaged as the MD. He has been claiming he is untouchable over his relationship with the former Minister.”

 

When contacted to respond to the allegations, the NPA stated that the Nigerian government’s adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy has made it difficult for any organisation to make money through unlawful ways.

 

 

“The issue of waivers mostly comes from the ministries –finance and transport, not the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies). It’s impossible for any agency head to open an account to receive government funds since TSA came into effect,” the agency stated this through its media consultant who insisted that his comment should be credited to NPA.

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