By Innocent Orok
For attempting to seek for a bogus and double budget lines to repair the burnt section of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) headquarters building at Marina, Lagos State and refusal to disclose the insurance companies that insured the edifice. A journalist ground, Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) is set to invoke the Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act of 2011 to compel the NPA management to make public the names of the insurance companies and the premium so far paid by the NPA.
FOI was enacted in 2011, is an Act to make public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy among others.
According to a press statement signed by AMJON president, Paul Ogboukiri, the association which is a body of Journalists reporting the maritime sector for their various organizations is set to invoke the FoI on NPA for failure to disclose the insurance companies and amount so for paid as premium by the NPA after a month of the incident.
The statement reads ” The Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON), a body journalists reporting the Maritime sector for their organisations, is set to invoke the Freedom of Information (Fol) Act on the Management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to compel it to release to it, the name (s) of its insurer(s) and the status of its premium payment before the recent fire incident and looting of its headquarters and part of the Tin Can Island Port office, all in Lagos.
“The invocation of the Fol Act has become necessary in view of the refusal of the Authority to release the information to reporters despite multiple requests made in this regard.
This action also becomes expedient in view of the fact that the public is yet to know the value of the loss over one month after the incident, and the insurer(s) is/are yet to announce payment of compensation as per the value of the loss.
This is even as the Lagos State Government which recorded much more destruction and looting released an estimate of what it will cost to replace, the destroyed and looted assets.
“The invocation is also necessary as the federal lawmakers during their recent sympathy visit to NPA, to commiserate with Management of the Authority over the incident, announced that they told the NPA Management during their meeting that they (NPA) should adjust their 2021 budget to cover for the repairs and replacement of stolen and damaged assets.”
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has announced that it will pass the 2021 Appropriation Act in the second week of December before they embark in their Christmas vacation. As the NPA is yet to publicly reject the advice of the lawmakers to jack up their 2021 budget to provide for the ‘rebuilding’ of the burnt headquarters.
“We suspect that the NPA has already done as advised by NASS, to this end, we will insist in the Fol request that the NPA also made its 2021 budget available to us to enable us properly inform the public.
“AMJON as a responsible media group, sees this effort as a patriotic duty to save the country billions of Naira of taxpayers’ money which will be wasted if the National Assembly approves money for the replacement of the NPA’s losses in the incident when those losses are legally supposed to be replaced by the insurer(s) whom taxpayers money has been used to pay premium” the statement concludes.
It could be recalled that the NPA building was the only high rise building at the Marina Lagos area set ablaze by hoodlums who hijacked the ENDSARS protest in Lagos. It took more than two weeks for the authority management to inspect the damage property. And for up to a month now, the cost of the damage nor the insurance companies that insured the building is still being kept a secret by the NPA.
Meanwhile, the NPA Managing Director , Hadiza Bala Usman has told journalists that the building was properly insured by a consortium of Insurance companies against fire and attack, but failed to disclose neither the Companies, nor the insured amount.