The House of Representatives has opened an investigation into the non-remittance and under remittance of over $10 billion as revenues by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), over a period of eight years.
In a motion sponsored by Honourable Chukwudi Onyereri, the lawmaker expressed his concern that this ineffectiveness by the agency had deprived the country of needed revenue.
“Over the years, NIMASA has been very ineffective in execution of its mandate, a situation that has resulted in financial leakages, maritime insecurity and operational decline of the agency.
“The House is aware of cases of revenue losses arising from leakages in three per cent levy on wet and dry cargoes, two per cent surcharge and other revenues sources put at $10 billion over a period of eight years,” Honourable Onyereri stressed.
He also drew that attention of the House to the export lifting of crude oil by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and IOCs which he said were based on Free On Board instead of Cost Insurance and Freight charges and carried out without interface with NIMASA for the purpose of enforcing the payment of the three per cent levy.
“The House is concerned that the two per cent Cabotage weaver Fees meant to fund the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund for indigenous capacity building are being invaded by the IOCs and other major foreign shipping companies operating in the country,” he further stated.
After deliberations on the issue, the House mandated a joint committee to consider and track compliance by NIMASA and report back to them in six weeks.
Meanwhile, the former Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi and six others are facing trial on a 13-count charge of forgery & stealing of about 754.7 million Naira.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned them before Justice Raliat Adebiyi on January 25.
The EFCC specifically accused the defendants of converting to their personal use a sum of 346.8 million Naira released to them by NIMASA, a sum meant for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme.
They were also accused of forging a document of “request for payment as consultant for VIMSAS services” with an intent to commit fraud.
The offences are said to be contrary to Section 409 and punishable under Section 285 (1) of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2011.
The defendants had all pleaded not guilty.