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Reps quiz firms over $287m debt owed NIMASA, seek invocation of Executive Order 6

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The House of Representatives on Thursday quizzed 12 shipping companies over $287 million debt owed Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) since 2004 till date.

Mohammed Bago, chairman, House Committee on Maritime and Safety Education who queried the payments allegedly made by the companies, disclosed that most of the shipping companies of changing names in bid to evade taxes.

According to the petition on the ‘ongoing massive revenue leakage at the SPL desk which runs into millions of dollar being investigated by the Committee, “shipping agents, IOCs and other designated maritime operators are colluding with dubious staff of the Agency withhold remittable revenue.

“This relatively unknown revenue source is one of the major conduits in settling DGs, EDs and their cronies at the expense of the Federal Government. Prominent culprits in this malfeasance are: Gac Shipping
Nig. Ltd; Daddo Marine Limited; BlueSea Marine Services; Transocean Support Services Ltd; who have so far amassed huge debts totaling about $260 million.”

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Apart from attempt to cover up the massive revenue leakages and directive to pay 40 percent of the debts to highly placed officials of the Agency, the petitioner further alleged that 30 percent of the debt will go to the Agency’s coffers while the balance of 30 percent will go to the affected companies. To facilitate this thievery, the companies will be invited for debt reconciliation after which they will be given 70 percent Credit Notes to wipe off such debts from
NIMASA payment and collection systems called TRIM,” the petition read in part.

According to the document obtained by the Committee, GAC Shipping Nigeria Limited owes $172.345 million; Daddo Maritime Services owes $34.479 million; BlueSea Marine Services owes $31.147 million; Divine Marine Shipping Nigeria Limited owes $10.819 million; Transocean Support Services Limited owes $9.787 million; while Inchcape Shipping Services Nigeria Limited owes $6.382 million.

Others are: Maesk Nigeria Limited owes $5.739 million; Al Raine Nigeria Limited owes $5.453 million; Hull Blyth Nigeria Limited owes $3.617 million; CMA CGM-Delmas Nigeria Limited owes $3.568 million; Joe-Eboje owes $3.497 million while Peak Shipping owes $2.600 million.

While responding to inquiry by the Committee on the $9.5 million debt, Bayo Odebunmi, Manager, BlueSea Maritime Services who affirmed that the company is indebted to NIMASA however explained that some payments have been after reconciliation of accounts after 2016.

Worried by the development, the Chairman who described NIMASA as ‘irresponsible’, queried why the agency has failed to update its records with the view recover all the debts spanning two years.

While responding to inquiry over the sum of $5.7 million owed by Maesk Nigeria Limited, Owolabi Okulaja, Customer Relations Manager explained that from our internal reconciliation, the sum of $2million was paid as at October 2016, while the sum of $3 million still being reconciled.

In a swift response to his presentation, Bago alleged that the company is owing over $10 million apart from the $5.7 million owed NIMASA, just as he chided the companies operating in the sector of receiving money from foreign shipping companies and diverting them for private use for several years.

On his part, Oyelowo Rafiu, Manager Finance for GAC Shipping Nigeria Limited disclosed that the company has paid $3 million on weekly basis out of total sum of $172 million debt owed as at 14th November 2018.

In his response, Churchill Chukwuemeka, Branch Manager, Inchcape Shopping Services affirmed that the company’s is indebted to the tune of $1.4 million out of which $300,000 is for NLNG.

Meanwhile, the Chairman mandated NIMASA and the company to reconcile with the Ship inspection unit of NIMASA with the view to ascertain how the company arrived at $1.1 million debt.

He also demanded for details of all levies paid other levies paid including the 3 percent levy.

While responding to allegations bothering on $3.6 million debt, Akinfemi Adewale, Accountant, Hull Blyth Nigeria Limited disclosed that the company has since 2004 reconciled its account with up to date, adding that the sum of $580,000 was paid to NIMASA, while receipts for the sums of $400,000 and $701,494 paid as out of pocket
to NIMASA account has not been issued.

To this end, the Chairman directed the company to provide details of all payments made so far with the view to correct the variances.

Also speaking on the $35 million owed NIMASA, disclosed that from the sum of $24 million was reviewed downward to $10.5 million after reconciliation.

He added that as at August the company’s indebtedness stands at $151.954 million according to the statement of account received up to 16th August, 2018.

However, the Chairman of the Committee observed that the company has not remitted $5 million to NIMASA as well as $6 million debt owed NLNG, hence directed that all statements of accounts and receipts on various transactions should be made available to the Committee for further legislative action and reconcile with shipping directorate of NIMASA.

While ruling, Bago (APC-Kano) directed all the companies to reconcile their accounts, adding that “anybody that gets waiver from NIMASA is a fraud.”

To this end, he requested that all the Chief Executive Officers of the companies should appear before the Committee on Tuesday, 20th November, 2018 with relevant documents.

He also expressed concern why all the defaulting companies which warehoused the funds have not been blacklisted since 2004, yet resolved to using proxy companies to continue doing business.

Hence, he mandated all the indicted companies to provide CAC forms and particulars of directors, adding that all the companies should be included in the watchlist of President Muhammadu Buhari and invoke Executive Order 6 on them accordingly.

He also unveiled plans to involve all the anti-graft agencies and Nigerian Immigration Service with the view to track all the expatriates who are doing business without relevant permits.

 

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja