· How Presidential Committee consummated the deal illegally
· Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee to launch website in January
By Kenneth Jukpor
The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has been stunned to realize the massive corruption perpetuated under his ministry as two buildings belonging to Abuja MoU in Lagos were sold in June and August this year.
This is one of the many surprises that have taken place in the ministry and the parastatals under the ministry in more than three years now.
Amaechi, MMS Plus gathered was alarmed that he was said to have instituted an enquiry into the scam, allegedly perpetrated with the aid of some members of staff of his ministry and presidency insiders.
The Presidency carried out the sale through the Implementation Committee of the White Paper on the Commission of Inquiry into the Alienation of Federal Government Landed Property, without the consent or acknowledgement of the Minister of Transport.
The two concerned buildings are located at No. 7, Cameron Street, Ikoyi and No. 3, Adeyemi Lawson, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The Abuja MoU only became aware of this development when the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) sent a letter to it demanding that it vacates the premises.
According to the Presidential Committee, the decision to sell the assets was based on the allegation that the said properties remained underutilized since it was ceded to Abuja MoU ten years ago.
In its initial letter, with Ref. No. CM349/G/II/358 on June 21st 2018, titled “Intention To Recover Federal Government Property” signed by the Committee’s Secretary, Mr. Kola Adeyemi, the report stated that the move was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to derive full benefits from its landed assets.
The letter stressed the tough economic situation facing the country, noting that it has become imperative to request for the release of the property on No. 6 Cameron Street, Ikoyi, Lagos to enable the new owners have vacant possession.
Meanwhile, the second letter dated August 28th, 2018 with Ref. No. CM349/G/II/364 titled; “Intention To Recover Federal Government Properties: No. 7 Cameron Street And No. 3 Adeyemi Lawson, Ikoyi, Lagos” read:
“I write to inform your esteemed office of the decision of Government in respect of property known as No.7, Cameron Street, Ikoyi and No.3, Adeyemi Lawson, Ikoyi, Lagos which have used as a replacement for a leased property that later became encumbered.
“You may wish to note that the said property was allocated to your agency about ten years ago but it has remained unutilized since then. After then, the Committee went round Lagos in 2018 to identify unutilized federal government property and that was when the properties were captured”
“Looking at the current economic situation of the country and the need for Government to derive full benefits from its landed assets, it has become imperative to request for the release of the property to enable the new owners have vacant possession”
“While thanking you most sincerely for your understanding, please accept the assurances of my warm regards” the letter was also signed by Adeyemi.
However, in a swift reaction, the Secretary-General to MoU, Barr. (Mrs.) Mfon Usoro via a letter with Ref. No. SG/A-MOU/18/030 to PIC described the position of the Committee as incorrect as the aforementioned properties weren’t unutilized.
“The properties are occupied and remain occupied up till now. The Nigerian government in fulfillment of its obligation as the host member State, acting through the Federal Ministry of Transportation, had through its agency, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) since commenced renovation of the properties to near completion and even during the renovation, the properties have never been vacant as parts of the buildings remain fully occupied” it said.
The letter emphasized that as an inter-governmental institution, the Abuja MoU has full diplomatic status and observed in the twenty member states from Mauritania to South Africa.
Quoting relevant portions of the agreement between the Nigerian government and the Abuja MoU, it stressed the full diplomatic status and privileges highlighted in the General Convention on Privileges and Immunity for Abuja MoU such as; Art 1, Section 1 and 2 which guarantees inviolability and immunity of the properties and premises of the Abuja MoU.
It also cited Art 1, Section 3 which states that “the premises of Abuja MoU shall be inviolable and shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation or any other form of administrative or legislative action”
Recall that these properties have been subject of conflict between Mr. Galtima B. Liman, who was an employee of Abuja MoU, for several years as he declined to vacate the properties, even after he was relieved of his position in the sub-regional institution. Surprisingly, he allegedly connived with the PIC to dispossess Abuja MoU of the properties without the knowledge of the Federal Ministry of Transport, inside sources in Abuja MoU alleged.
Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee To Launch Website In January
In another development,as part of efforts to ensure clarity and transparency as strategic steps are taken and documented in the bid to realize Nigerian fleet, the Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee set-up by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, would launch a website in January 2019.
The website would be specifically dedicated to publishing all that the Committee achieves as well as notable events and initiatives that would create the requisite fiscal and regulatory environment for the establishment of national fleet.
One of the members of the committee, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun revealed this during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus at the 2018 Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) End-of-Year Workshop/ Dinner.
Ogbeifun who is also the President of SOAN, said; “The Nigerian Fleet Implementation Committee is still very heavily active and from January there would be a website of the Committee and we will be publishing all that is happening on that initiative”
Addressing the complaints of non-patronage of Nigerian vessels since the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) refloated its shipping arm, NIDAS Shipping, he assured that there is going to be a synergy between NIDAS and the Fleet Implementation Committee.
“As a matter of fact, the Managing Director of NIDAS is a member of the committee. It’s going to be about collaborations and not an issue whether they are doing it right or wrong. At the moment there is no Nigerian crude tanker fleet available for NIDAS to charter from but they must continue to meet the mandate they have been given so they went to the London market”
“NIDAS is saying Nigeria has cargo but it doesn’t ships so they have gone to London to source ships. This means that if there is an initiative in the country that leads to the acquisition of ships especially tankers of the right specification, NIDAS wouldn’t only be limited to the foreign market. They would look inwards” he said.
He explained that the country must see the introduction of NIDAS Shipping Services in crude carriage as a positive one that could facilitate the emergence of Nigerian tanker fleet.
He insisted that the expected changes in the sector couldn’t happen by fiat, but through strategic planning, expressing optimism that the Nigerian Fleet Committee has identified the factors militating against the establishment of any national fleet, noting that the biggest issue was the fiscal incentives that other nations have adopted.
“If you are a Nigerian and you buy a ship and you pay duties. If you are a British or Greek or Angolan and you buy a ship and flag it in your country; it is zero duty. In these nations, they would also give the ship-owner tax holiday because they know that you must have borrowed heavily to finance the vessel” he said.
He revealed that the committee was in pursuit of these incentives and commended the government for responding positively.
“We have engaged the government up to the level of the Vice President and the Minister of National Planning is also onboard. Until we deal with this issue, the idea of floating a fleet will be difficult to achieve” he added.
Similarly, the President of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship-owners Association (NISA) Alhaji Aminu Umar has admonished NIDAS to explore opportunities to empower Nigerian ship-owners.
“NIDAS keeps saying that Nigerians don’t have the vessels that can handle such cargoes. Yes, Nigerians don’t have such vessels but if the market can be guaranteed Nigerians would raise the money to buy the vessels. This issue can be likened to putting the cart before the horse” he said.
He commended the new initiative which stipulates that someone who intends to lift crude or petroleum products in the country must do so through NIDAS but lamented that all the vessels NIDAS has been engaging are from foreign owners.
According to Umar, what indigenous ship-owners are pushing for isn’t just for the Nigerian ship owner but to insist that the vessels must be Nigerian flagged vessels.
“Let it be a registered vessel under the Nigerian flag. This is what we are trying to develop. In promoting the Nigerian flagged vessel, we are talking about the Nigerian ship owner and Nigerian seafarers because that is the condition for registering a vessel under the Nigerian flag” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside said at the SOAN dinner that as part of efforts to encourage indigenous ship owners, NIMASA has stopped granting waivers for vessels not flagged Nigeria.
In his presentation titled“Effective Policy Implementation; A Panacea for Sustainable Participation and Growth of Nigerian Maritime Sector,” Dr. Dakuku lamented that the poor implementation of policies in Nigeria has put the nation at a disadvantage in global trade, where all activities are done with emphasis on global best standards.
Dakuku said: “Poor implementation of our policies is a challenge because of the impact of globalization and how trade liberalisation drives competitiveness. Our policies cannot stand the test of time on global platforms.”
According to him, the long anticipated disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) would begin in the first quarter of 2019 as the problematic issues hindering the disbursement has been addressed
Next Week: The Gladiators Against NTC Bill, Why They Want It Dead! Does Money Have Any Role Here? Find Out.