The general assembly of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) has unanimously asked the embattled president of the. Association, Capt. Niyi Labinjo to step aside until he clears his name with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the $5.85 million ship purchase scandal involving him and an indigenous shipping firm Accenk Maritime and Energy Services Limited.
The members who unanimously agreed that Capt. Labinjo should step aside however asked the 2nd Vice President of the association, Alhaji Aminu Umar to take over as the acting president pending when Capt. Labinjo clears his name with the EFCC.
However, briefing newsmen, the Acting President, said the decision asking Labinjo to step aside was taken in the best interest of the association.
He said the association had received letters from various agencies of government and Parastatals who threatened not to deal with the association if Labinjo still remained the president.
He said, “the decision was not to witchhunt capt Labinjo but for the interest of the association.
“We have therefore decided that the President should step aside to allow him concentrate on clearing his involvement in this allegation and to allow the association focus on our aim and objectives.” Umar said.
He explained that Labinjo had not been sacked or suspended from the association but was only asked to step aside from the office of President so that the bandwagon of the scandal on his head would not rub off on the association.
“We have reiterated that anytime he comes with a letter from the anti corruption agency stating that he has cleared his name he would be immediately reinstated as the President.”
Speaking earlier, the General Secretary of the association, Tunji Brown said the executive earlier set up a committee made up of shipowners and ship finance experts to review all information at their disposal and Labinjo was indicted by the commitee.
“Before the exco took the decision of asking him to step aside, we set up a committee made up of ship owners and ship finance experts to review all information at our disposal and Capt (Labinjo) was indicted.
“We saw that he was involved from all the transaction and movement of funds from his account.”
The NISA scribe said the association would not have intervened in the failed business deal because it was a private business but the fact that the company petitioned the association, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigerian Ports Authority and the EFCC get them involved.
He also said the botched deal has had a toll on NISA members as banks were sceptical in doing business with them.
Though the exco has power to ask him to step aside but it had to bring the issue to the general assembly to ratify in pursuance of the association constitution.
Also, the Chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Expo, Ayorinde Adedoyin said the leadership crisis rocking the association had taken toll on the success of the expo.
He said there were need for the association to resolve the leadership tussle once and for all.
His words, “NISA is divided into two and that is affecting NIMAREX. Banks are calling, sponsors of the event are calling to know what is happening in the association.”
He also expressed shock that some members of the association are peddling rumours around saying the expo would not hold.
He said, “the success story is that the expo will hold but some members of the association are going around to peddle rumours about the expo that it won’t hold.” he said.