Jauro raises committee to generate N70bn monthly
- Ship owners lament dying NIMASA
Operational activities in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) have been virtually grounded to a halt by on-going investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) into the alleged mega misappropriation of funds by the immediate past Director- General of the agency, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who has been charged to court with seven other members of staff of NIMASA for money laundering, among other charges.
These seven members of staff of NIMASA has been suspended from service as a result of their alleged involvement in the ragging fraud allegation, thereby vacuum in the system.
Just last two weeks Thursday, January 28, 2016, the Acting Director-General, Mr. Haruna Jauro was picked by the EFCC officials for quizzing. Jauro, who was picked by 9am in the morning was released at 1:30am the next day after making frantic phone calls and tension soaked moments. Many NIMASA officials never knew he would be back because he was interrogated on some issues he was alleged to be involved in as regards the on- going trials of some workers in NIMASA where he was the Executive Director, Administration and Finance under Akpobolokemi as the director general.
These long hours of interrogation created panic in the agency, especially among his well-wishers who resorted to intermittent prayer sessions, while others prayed for a change in leadership. Had the EFCC officials kept Jauro with them till the next morning, he would have kissed the job good-bye, a source in NIMASA claimed.
Our findings revealed that following the constant visits by EFCC officials and arrest and release of workers, most NIMASA officials are now scared of coming to work for weeks thereby worsening the condition of activities in the agency with the consequence being declining revenue figure.
The minister of transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi had threatened to scrap NIMASA and sack a percentage of its workforce at different times, raising serious fear among the workforce.
In a move to save his job, Jauro set up a committee to raise the agency’s revenue figure from N67billion to N70billion on monthly basis.
The committee members however have said they could even realize more than the target but they have to block all leakages in the system. This development has led to increase in their various levies on ships and environment.
Speaking to MMS Plus on the limitations posed by the probe in NIMASA, the President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun lamented, “The current happenings in NIMASA, is a pity because the good, the bad and the ugly are going on. With what is happening there, the situation in NIMASA has placed our shipping and maritime industry in an emergency before the international community. We have already fallen short of the minimum requirement by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for our country to be considered as a maritime nation and it is very important that I use this medium to call on the government of the day to urgently intervene in the crisis and save NIMASA.
“No government can close down NIMASA but it is the responsibility of government to reorganize the agency to the standard required by international bench marks. We the operators are suffering because there are not much professionals left that we can deal with in addressing our statutory needs in the area of maritime safety in particular. Practically everybody from the office of the Executive Directors to the Director, Shipping Development and Director Maritime Safety are now all affected, they have all been suspended and taken out of the place for a good reason and there is no obvious interim arrangement in place made known to operators where we can engage on matters that affect our day to day activities.” He emphasized.
Ogbeifun pleaded with the relevant authorities to act fast to salvage the situation. “Specifically, my company is required to, on a verification process, obtain certificates for seafarers who we want to engage their services, also, we are currently building a ship in China, we want to update the contract, the shipyard has severally asked us to get certain documentation in NIMASA. Nobody in NIMASA has been able to attend to these issues because people that know what to do are with EFCC.”
He further said, “This is a typical case, for others who want to go through their registration process which concerns maritime safety and shipping development, there are not enough people there to attend to them, people who are there do not have the authority to take certain decisions, this is affecting our ability to become compliant on statutory matters and this is very critical.”