League of Maritime Editors Demands Probe On Asadu’s Port Committee

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    President of the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP) Mr. Kingsley Anaroke

    Writes N’Assembly, EFCC on Committee’s shoddy oversight functions in CRFFN


The League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP) has written the  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabimiala,  over the oversight function carried out by the immediate past House Committee on Ports, Harbour and Waterways (PHW) chaired by Hon. Pat Asadu on the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria  (CRFFN) early last year, demanding a fresh probe to unravel the truth.


The League has also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make public its investigations on the wanton diversion of funds through capital projects budgetary appropriation in three consecutive and successive years in CRFFN which has both physical and documentary evidences circulating in private and public circles, to exonerate itself from the allegation of compromise.


In a State of the Nation statement signed by its President and Secretary, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke and Mr. Francis Ugwoke, respectively, the League said it is particularly worried that the former members of the House Committee on PHW failed Nigerians and the maritime sector over the way and manner they conducted a probe on the Council’s activities and projects executed in the past by certifying a fraudulent process free of malfeasance.


The League recalls that members of the House Committee on PHW  had last year invited the management of CRFFN to an Investigative Hearing session chaired by Hon. Ossy Chinedu Prestige, a forum where concerns on  financial and administrative infractions in most of the  projects  executed by the CRFFN management were raised.


Afterwards, the House had mandated its members in the Committee  to  investigate  the allegations, an assignment that was concluded in May last year.


But the League gathered that during the probe, the House  Committee  members were simply given a handout or deceived on the different status of the projects  which were claimed to be under 80-90 percent completion, an assertion which has been discovered to be  false.


According to the statement, the League wants the  Speaker of the House of Representatives to assign another  Committee to undertake a serious probe on the status of the buildings or capital projects, among others  that have been executed by the Council in the past few years  for the stakeholders in the maritime industry and indeed other Nigerians  to know the truth.


The League accused members of the Committee of having been heavily compromised on their national assignment, adding that if a new probe  is not instituted, the freight forwarding industry which is being regulated by the Council will suffer.


Such probe, according to the League, has even become imperative considering that the CRFFN  will soon commence the collection of Port Operating Fees (POF) from members which will run into billions of Naira in which  lack of  transparency and  accountability will not be in the best interest of the freight forwarding industry.


The League added that the probe has even  become very necessary  as the same former House Committee approved other fraudulent projects worth over N100 million in questionable manner in the 2019 budget.


The League said its investigation showed that the claim on the projects executed in some states was a big lie that will shock the industry when the truth is revealed.


According to the group, members of the Council who were elected early last year have already gone round the places where the projects were sited  but were compelled to keep sealed lips over their findings, one of the reasons the new House leadership needs to  intervene  in the matter.


The League further expressed concerns that the present leadership of the  Council has already given a clean slate to the former leadership of the CRFFN  simply to protect them and probably  for reason that they also have padded the 2019 budget with fake projects for personal gains in consolation.


The League has already  gone round to take  on the spot assessment of the of the said projects, while noting that it is important  to probe the spate of the funds allocation for security appliances said to have been used by a professional regulatory  council which is not a security outfit.


Observing that the bidding and contract award process lacks transparency,  the group alleged that the true ownership of the 12 companies selected for the contract awards is questionable. Consequently, they called on the EFCC to undertake its statutory investigative obligation.


The League further asserted that a critical review of the 2017, 2018 and 2019  CRFFN budgets shows a carry over of the same  capital budget provision for a given project awarded in previous years on the basis of build, furnish, and deliver.

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