The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has withdrawn its ‘Letter of No Objection’ earlier issued to the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) for the acquisition of a new property that will serve as headoffice in Lekki area of Lagos.
The withdrawal of the approval was contained in a letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, issued last week, September 22, a source said.
It was gathered that the latest development may not be unconnected with the opposition of the Governing Board of the CRFFN against the acquisition of the property for N800million.
It was gathered that the BPP claims it was misled into issuing the approval in what raises questions on the integrity of the agency in carrying out investigations before giving approval on such matters.
Both CRFFN Board and the management team have been at loggerhead over the planned acquisition of the property.
The Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, had last weekend directed the Governing Board and the management team to put a hold on the planned acquisition.
A source close to the Council said Sambo gave the directive following report that the Board and management of the agency were at loggerhead over the acquisition of the property.
Our source said the Minister gave the directive while attending the Nigerian International Economic Partnership Forum in the United States.
SHIPPING DAY had reported last week that the CRFFN Board is against the acquisition of the property on the allegation that the value may have been inflated for personal gains.
But another source alleged that the allegation of inflation of the property value from some board members may not be unconnected with the decision of the management team of the Council to reject their request for sharing of some part of the N800m.
The Board at a meeting held in September 8 had considered the report of a Committee on the acquisition of the office and took a decision that the plan should be halted.
According to an insider, the reason for the decision of the Board was on the argument that the new office which value was put at N800m was not worth the sum quoted.
A member of the Board (name withheld) said the property was not worth N300m in real value as against N800m negotiated.
Based on the report of the Committee, the Board members told the CRFFN management to jettison the plan to acquire the office and channel the N800m already approved to what could be useful to the Council.
Some of the Board argued that apart from the high figure quoted as the value of the property, there was also the issue of proximity of the property, adding that it was in the outskirt of the central operational areas for members of the Board.
A member of the Board said those who negotiated for the acquisition of the Lekki office should have thought of Apapa which will serve as more central area.
The Board had during the September 8 meeting decided that instead of acquiring the property, CRFFN administration should consider relocating to Abuja where the Council left some years ago.
However, a source said the process of acquiring the property had gone through some procedures in which the management staff were not part of.
According to the source, the property acquisition has gone through the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTD), as such amount involved was beyond what the CRFFN has powers to handle.
The source added that the crux of the matter was that some board members want part of the N800m shared, a request the management team has objected.
The source was of the view that if some members of the Board feel that the issue against Lekki office was one of proximity, why not request for another office space instead of insisting that the CRFFN administration should go back to Abuja when headquarters of every maritime agencies were in Lagos.