By DAPO OLAWUNI
Registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Barr Samuel Nwakohu is currently swimming in troubled waters as the Ministry of Transportation was said to have commenced an investigation into his alleged hugh-handedness and corrupt style of running the freight forwarders Council.
All through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week, the Registrar was said to be in Abuja, facing an investigative panel constituted by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani.
The CRFFN boss is currently in trouble over a 14-paged internal petition written against him by members of his management team of CRFFN, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by DAILY TREND NEWS.
The petition was signed by Dr Aba George, Director of Finance Administration (DFA) Agor Gideon, Head of Internal Audit, Leo Anigbo Head of Research and Development, Ben Ojumah Head of Admin and Human Resources and Chinyere Uromta, Head of Corporate Affairs.
Part of the very many allegations of high-handedness of the Registrar was that “The sum of N8,000,000.00 (eight million Naira) only was purportedly paid as fake
Corporate Social Responsibility to Federal University, keshere, gombe. Up to date, there is no documentary evidence to support and confirm receipt by the University”
“N400,000.00 (four hundred thousand Naira only) was given to a Lady under the guise of fake beauty pageant and tagged Corporate Social Responsibility, a transaction that has no relevance to CRFFN mandate”
“Fake donation of N4,000,000.00 (Four Miiiion Naira only) to his Alma Mata Okrika Grammar School Old Boy’s Association as Corporate Social Responsibility without due process and outside area and mandate of CRFFN”
“The Registrar has approved, the sum of N24,217,000.00 (Twenty-four million, two hundred and seventeen thousand naira only) to be paid to various fake NGOs whose activities have nothing to do with the operations of CRFFN”
“The Finance and Accounts dept has been under intense pressure from the Registrar Mr Sam Nwakohu to make these payments under Corporate Social Responsibility. This again did not follow due process”
“Registrar approved payment of the sum of N47.946.000.00 additional training fees to the N109Miilion earlier approved and disbursed to ABC International Resources (see section 2’a’ above). The DFA drew his attention to the fact that this
approval was beyond his threshold and that the approval of PTB was required; (See appendix A1-A2)
“However, when the DFA went on usual leave, the Registrar removed the original appro8 and rerouted as new approval to the AD (Finance and Accounts) with intent to coerce him to effect the illegal payment, which the DFA had already rejected. The ostensible reason for this vile action is to defeat the insistence on due process by the DFA(Refer to Appendix A3-A4)
“Mr Sam Nwakohu siphoned over N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira only) to pay rent for a non-existing office for CRFFN in Asokoro, No.33 Lord Lugard street on which the Governing Council issued him a strong query”
Other parts of the petition were that
“Registrar’s salary which is consolidated and contains the provision of the sum of N288,000.00 per annum for purchase of newspapers. As at July 2019, N62,000.00 was spent on purchase of newspapers for Registrar, when audit drew attention to the fact that this was already consolidated. he took it personal and a challenge on his authority”
“Registrar ordered payment of the sum of N193,550.00 for security in his personal house in Lagos. Audit raised observations that this has been consolidated in his salary. The observations were ignored and he ordered Accunts to effect payment which amounts to double payments”
“Recently Audit drew his attention to the presence of ghost workers on our payroll. The Registrar instead of focusing on the issues resorted to name calling, insults on personalities and threats of sacking and dismissing staff that raised the observation. As we are submitting this write up to you sir, Registrar has approved the sum of over N400.000.00 (four hundfed thousand Naira) for payment in respect of security in his house which is awaiting payment any moment from now against all queries from audit”
Apart from these, Nwakohu allegedly created a cabal for himself within the CRFFN and rendered a lot of people useless within the Council.
According to the petition, Nwakohu upgraded about sixteen junior staff, they were reportedly working with him directly on collection of the controversial Practitioners Operating Fees (POF), regardless of the decision of the Governing Board.
The governing board was allegedly not consulted for any decision taking by the Registrar, while normally, there should be a collective agreement before decisions were taken, but there was allegedly no consultation by the Registrar.
Part of the petition was also that Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi had handpicked Nwakohu for the CRFFN job, and that he never applied for the job or submitted any application to the e-mail published and advertised for the position.
Part of the allegations was also that he does not have the qualifications he claims to posses before getting the job.
When he was contacted by DAILY TREND NEWS, Barr Nwakohu denied these allegations.
In a text message response he sent to our correspondent, he said “No, I was NOT questioned for three days over alleged misappropriation of funds.
I am not and have not been involved in any misappropriation of funds”
Meanwhile, the freight forwarding community are anxiously waiting for the outcome of the investigation on the CRFFN Registrar by the Ministry of Transportation.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos yesterday, President of African Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) Otunba Frank Ogunojemite commended the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi for investigating the recklessness in the freight forwarders Council.
“We appreciate the decision that the Minister of Transportation has made to drill the Registrar, I had expected the Registrar to have responded to all the allegations levelled against him, but to my knowledge, he has not responded to anything so far”
“We want to commend the Minister and the Permanent Secretary and to urge them not to sweep this matter under the carpet, they should make the outcome known to public domain, this would serve as a deterant to others coming onboard” he said
The APFFLON President noted that the maritime sector of any country is a catalyst for their economic development and growth, hence, if the CRFFN has performed creditably well, it would make a positive impact on the development of Nigeria maritime sector.
Ogunojemite urged the minister not to only dismiss the Registrar if found guilty, but to also prosecute him.
“We need a competent person to handle that seat, if the Registrar is found guilty, he should not only be dismissed, he must be punished, because he has wasted all our time in the maritime sector, there must be consequences for his actions”
The APFFLON President harped on the need for a review and periodic assessment of the CRFFN by the Federal Government, as well as a periodic review of all government agencies and associations.