Dr Mohammed Bello-Koko
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Extortion, blackmail journalism: I will not succumb to mischief-makers, says NPA MD, Mohammed Bello-Koko

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The Managing Director/CEO, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, has alerted the public to the desperate plot to defame and extort him by some faceless individuals under the cloak of unknown Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) using blackmail and a section of online media.

Describing it as mischief and cheap blackmail, Bello-Koko said the mischief-makers having failed in their desperation to dent or hurt his integrity had resorted to “very cruel campaign of calumny against him and family’’.

“Because they are faceless, I don’t have the opportunity to seek redress in court on the grounds of their rehashed and rehearsed lies.

“I need to reiterate that for all of my years as a banker and a public officer up till today, I have never been indicted or convicted by any court. And this fact is in the public domain.

“I’m also certain that my integrity as well as dedication and fidelity to the rules of public administration must have influenced the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to promote me from the rank of Executive Director (Finance and Administration) to Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Ports Authority.

“In the past two years, in a desperate bid to defame and extort me, some faceless individuals under the cloak of unknown Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have resorted to blackmail, using the instrumentality of a section of online media to push through their mischief and blackmail,’’ the NPA boss said in a statement personally signed by him and obtained by Persecondnews.

He said the faceless individuals and blackmailers having failed in their bid to extort money from him about some of the property he acquired even before he was appointed as NPA CEO, allegedly wrote to the UK Government, seeking visa cancellation and forfeiture of assets belonging to him and his wife.

Bello-Koko stated:“Resorting to writing to the UK Government, seeking visa cancellation and forfeiture of assets belonging to my wife and I, is not only malicious but also cruel and wicked.

“I have yet to understand why these evil machinations would be orchestrated against me. Is the offence that I committed my acceptance and readiness to serve my country to the best of my ability?

“This latest attack, in the series of sponsored blackmails targeted at me, which began in 2021 immediately I was elevated from the position of Executive Director of Finance and Administration to the position of Managing Director of the NPA, is intended not only to damage my reputation but also to embarrass my family.

“Is there no limit to what vested interests can do in their desperate pursuit of power and influence?

In deceit, they have disingenuously claimed in the sponsored report that UK/Ireland Investigators were the ones that had written to the UK government after they had purportedly unearthed alleged criminal acts against me, bordering on money laundering activities, fraud, forgery, and tax evasion, which are all baseless figments of their malicious intent.’’

On the spurious claims made by the blackmailers, Bello-Koko explained:“Whereas, particulars cited in the report were the regurgitated allegations that they had sponsored and which had been doing the rounds in the media from the outset, this latest attempt is as spurious as their first attempt ever.

“Their claim that UK/Ireland Investigators, and not Metropolitan Police or Scotland Yard, are investigating me falls flat on its face and gives out the sponsors of the report- which is a piece of cheap blackmail-as desperate hustlers who are not civil and neither working in the interest of the society.

“It is unfortunate that some online news media have lent their platforms to these desperadoes to ply their odious trade. However, I challenge the conduit pipes of this malice to go ahead and mention the names and true identities of the CSOs and the investigators.

“If the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had been on the matter as indicated in the report, it is then unfair to suggest or claim that some questionable UK/Ireland Investigators are now pushing for exclusion order to ban me from ever entering the United Kingdom. One expects that there should be inter-agency collaboration in line with some bilateral or mutual agreements.

“All the supposed assertions and innuendos in the report are nothing but spurious and malicious concoctions intended to cause a predetermined damage.’’

On alleged secret foreign accounts being operated by the agency, Bello-Koko said he was not aware of any secret foreign accounts, pointing out that he could not have been a beneficiary of something that he was not aware of.

“I had, on several occasions, stated that the NPA under my leadership is not aware of any secret foreign accounts and I could not have been a beneficiary of something that I am not aware of and, which I would like to emphasize is non – existent to the best of my knowledge.

“The authority had, on July 26, 2022, set the records straight through a publication in the reputable “The Guardian” and “The Nation” Newspapers. Find link below: https://guardian.ng/news/npa-management-denies-operating-secret-accounts/ https://thenationonlineng.net/we-dont-have-secrets-accounts-npa/

“The UK property they mischievously mentioned was declared with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and purchased before I was appointed into public office. It is also important to note that the property was purchased on a 15-year mortgage payment plan.

“As NPA MD, I run an open administration that gives premium to due process in the execution of the agency’s core mandates.

“Our performances have been recently validated by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), which adjudged the NPA on my watch as a Platinum Level Organization, consequent upon the deployment of its Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) in the NPA for the independent assessment, validated assessment and in-depth analysis of processes and practices of the agency.

“Flowing from the assessment, the BPSR had returned a verdict of “exceptional performance by the NPA with a performance level of 91.25 percent.”

It added: “According to the Director General of BPSR, D.I. Arabi, “This means that NPA’s performance far exceeded expectations due to exceptionally high quality of work in all essential areas of responsibility, resulting in an overall quality of work that is superior, exceptional or unique.”

Bello-Koko restated that the NPA under his watch had specifically, in terms of tangible achievements that the various publics can relate with, recorded some modest achievements.

As part of his achievements, the NPA CEO disclosed that the organization had generated N286 billion and remitted over N100 billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account of the federation as of November 2022.

“The NPA has renewed the concession leases of five terminal operators who would be more responsible for the maintenance of Quays, Fenders, and allied matters such as port illumination.

“The agency has approved the upgrade of infrastructure at Terminal ‘B’, Berths 7 and 8, Onne Port Complex based on Messrs WACT Nigeria Limited’s proposal for investment exceeding USD 110 Million over a period of two years. The overall progress on all ongoing works is 75% as of end of October.

“We have increased container holding capacity at Rivers arising from conversion of unused space within PTOL Terminal into stacking area.

“To improve communication and navigational safely, we have provided and installed Eighty-Six (86) number Buoys for Warri and Calabar Pilotage Districts and have Completed the modernization of Control Towers at Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port which were built in the 1970s.

“We have also installed one hundred and eighty (180 Nos) Marine Fenders on all Quays Authority Wide for safe berthing,’’ Bello-Koko said.

Other achievements, according to him, include completion of the construction of 6,000 metric tonnes Bitumen Tank in Rivers Port Complex to improve the company’s bitumen storage capacity which will ease their operations and have impact on the infrastructure development of the South-South.

Others are:“Provision of 24 motorcycles deployed in aid of effective monitoring of Truck E-Call Up operation at Apapa/TCIPC/Ijora axis to ease free flow of traffic.

“Enforcement of full compliance of trucks to E-Call Up regime and Minimum Safety Standard resulting in significant reduction in the traffic gridlock along the main Port corridor and the internal access roads through enforcements, proper batching, continuous access control mechanisms and movement of cargo via barge operations.

“Licensing of additional truck parks to increase capacity of truck parks servicing the Lagos Ports.

“To improve revenue collection, we have Tightened collection mechanisms and plugged revenue leakages that resulted in the unprecedented generation of the sum of 286bn and the remittance of 103bn as of November 2022 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation.

“Licensing of 10 Export Processing Terminals to facilitate exports at Nigerian Sea Ports. Four (4) of these terminals are already fully operational.

“The Harbours department of Onne and Calabar ports have secured the International Standard Organization (ISO) certification. There is reduction in ship waiting time and cargo dwell time and increase in cargo traffic in the eastern ports.

“The committed efforts at advancing trade facilitation recently won the award of “Best Maritime Agency of the Year 2022” at the recently held Daily Telegraph Newspaper.’’

On his resolve not to be distracted by the blackmailers, Bello-Koko stated:“In light of the above, I cannot afford to be distracted by the deliberate shenanigans of blackmailers and vested interests who are desperate to upset the applecart of my sharply-focused leadership that is committed to emplacing and bequeathing to the nation a transparent and accountable management of the NPA now and in the years ahead.

“I will not hesitate to seek the support of all well-meaning and decent citizens to tell my traducers to use their energy for more meaningful endeavor than to engage in maliciousness of their campaign of intimidation, blackmail, and vendetta.

“I will not be the Chief Executive Officer of NPA for life, and I sincerely don’t know why anyone will be under the delusion that: “it’s either their way or the highway”. My job at the NPA is not personal. It is national service, to which I had resolved from the outset to give my best shot.’’

Bello-Koko, however, threatened to institute legal action against any media house that publishes unsubstantiated and damaging reports about him.

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