Amaechi orders probe of Maritime Academy over N18bn funds

Amaechi Chibuike (Minister of Transportation)The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi last week ordered the immediate audit of the accounts of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, Akwa Ibom State and the tenure of the institute’s Rector, Joshua Okpo.

It would be recalled that a youth group which called itself the Amalgamated Oro Youth Force, Oron recently sent a petition to the Federal Government accusing Okpo of alleged “immoral conduct and financial impropriety”.

Okpo incurred the Minister’s wrath last week when he accused the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) of starving the academy of funds. The Minister promptly summoned the Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Haruna Jauro and demanded explanation as to why the agency was starving MAN Oron of its statutory five per cent funds.

“The NIMASA DG was really taken aback by Okpo’s allegation and he explained to the Honourable Minister that NIMASA had regularly released money due to MAN Oron,” a Transport Ministry source who attended the meeting said.

Jauro informed Amaechi that NIMASA had released more than N18 billion to MAN Oron between 2009 and 2014.

It was at this point that Okpo, who also attended the meeting, confirmed to the Minister that the academy had actually received up to N13 billion since 2011 when he assumed duties as the Rector of the institution.

It was at this point that the Minister got really angry at Okpo, whom he accused of telling lies about the academy’s funds.

“Why didn’t you tell me that before? Why are you just saying that now when the facts were reeled out to you? Why did you come here to tell us before that you were starved of funds?,” the Minister reportedly queried Okpo.

When asked by Amaechi to explain what he had done with the huge sums of money released to the academy against the backdrop of lack of physical infrastructural development of the institution, Okpo was short of a convincing explanation prompting the Minister to order an immediate audit of the academy’s account from 2009 to date.

The Minister also said he would embark on an on-the-spot assessment of the academy’s infrastructures within the next few days.

By Pita Ochai

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