N70m Fraud Allegation Rocks National Association of Stevedoring Operators
…..Allegation not true-Sunmola
Fred Omotara, Lagos
Some aggrieved applicants who wished to join the National Association of Stevedoring Operators (NASO) have claimed that the association under Mr. Bolaji Sunmola have allegedly been defrauding prospective applicants of huge amount of money, running over N70m under the guise of registering them as members over the last few years.
According to the applicants, who wouldn’t want.their names in print, “The leadership of NASO allegedly collects the sum of N250,000 from each prospective applicants to register them as members, to enable them secure the association membership certificate in lieu of procurement practice by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for contract bids.
“This followed a Public Notice (No:4035) by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) titled “Expression of Interest (IOE) For The Appointment Of Stevedores At All Pilotage Districts And Crude Oil Terminals.”
“Part of the requirements for registration according to the NPA advertorial published in October of 2017 is for applicants to register with a stevedoring registration certificate from NASO, to qualify to partake in the bid.
“It wasn’t like this before, but the NASO under Mr. Bolaji Sunmola went to the NPA to convince them to increase the registration fee to N250,000, and to also make it a requirement for contract bids.
“Since they have been collecting the N250,000, we learnt that almost 280 companies have paid. Meaning NASO have raked in close to N70m from just registration. What is NASO doing with the money?
“It’s important that NASO is investigated. Millions of Naira Is going into the association under the guise of membership registration.
“It is due to demand for this huge amount of money that some of us are yet to join the NASO.”
Responding to the allegation during a media briefing, President of NASO, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola said that the allegation of fraud against him and other members of his executive are false.
“It is untrue that we went to NPA to plead for them to give us slot. We sold the idea to NPA because there is nothing we can do without the NPA. If they (NPA) said they are not interested there is nothing we can do.
“We need to train our people. We need to show our people how to be a professional in offshore stevedoring. If before, the registration is N100, 000, things are changing and we decided at the executive to make it easier that this thing should be N250, 000 to register as a member. It doesn’t have anything to do with NPA.
“This is a professional body and we work hard beyond what you are thinking to get from the onshore to offshore level. It was not an easy thing to convince the IOCs because they are even fighting us that we have no job there. “There is no stevedoring activity there. When you are talking about stevedoring, people think it ends at the ports. There are lots of operations there and there are also cargo handling.
“We sold the idea to NPA because there is nothing we can do without the NPA. if they said they are not interested, there is nothing we can do,” the NASC President explained.