The House of Representatives Committee on Marine Transport is set to begin an investigation into the activities of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to ascertain its involvement in subsidy fraud uncovered by the ad-hoc committee investigating the fuel subsidy regime.
This follows the adoption of one of the recommendations of the House Committee on Subsidy Probe which was passed last week mandating the Marine Transport Committee to probe the NPA and report back within one month.
The committee will investigate the officials of the authority to determine if they connived with petroleum marketers to defraud the federal government of revenue accruable to the federation.
The recommendation stated that: “Failure of the Nigerian Ports Authority to provide this committee the vital vessels data particularly the IMO numbers is an indication that either the NPA has a very poor record keeping system or that it was a deliberate ploy to cover up the collusion between its officials and importers. We recommend an investigation into the operations and activities of this authority.”
Explaining the scope of the investigation, the resolution added, “The port operations of the NPA should be investigated with a view to determining the extent to which its officials are complicit in the classification of marine areas for reception of Nigeria-bound petroleum products as “offshore Cotonou and “offshore Lome’ in the face of evidence that these vessels never did lighter at those ports.”
Other areas include reports of breach of national security due to alleged importation of arms and ammunition which are discharged at private jetties instead of the ports supervised by the NPA, midstream discharge of petroleum products and goods which denied the country huge amount of revenue and the activities of unscrupulous importers and the ineffective implementation of regulations with regards to the operations of private jetties leading to huge loss of revenue to the government.
Lawmakers had while debating the report of the Subsidy regime probe last week, amended some clauses, giving some investigation assignments to standing committees of the House, including that of Marine Transport.
The committee chaired by Hon Ifeanyi Ugwanyi has one month to report back to the House.