The House of Representatives has chided the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA) over its failure to recover over $300 million collected by some shipping companies providing services on its behalf since 2004.
This is as it threatened to involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with a view to bringing anybody culpable in the handling of the funds to justice.
The agency came under the wrath of the House Committee on Maritime Safety and Education at a public hearing held yesterday in Abuja on the non-remittances of fees collected by the shipping companies.
The companies were receiving payments from international shipping lines, and were expected to remit 3% of all such fees charged on cargoes to NIMASA, but failed to make the needed remittances.
Speaking on the matter, chairman of the committe, Hon. Umaru Bago, who threatened to issue arrest warrants against CEOs of the affected companies if they fail to honour the committee’s invitation, posited that it was a failure of duty on the part of NIMASA to allow the funds in the hands of the companies, for so many years, while the federal government resorts to borrowing to fund its projects and programmes.
“We have a deficit budget and we need to fund it,but how can we do that if people are irresponsible”.
Bago disclosed that information at the disposal of the committee has shown that some of the companies are the habit of filing for bankruptcy, and go ahead to assume new names and doing same businesses.
He informed that the committee will liaise with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to unravel the ownerships of the companies, saying that “ it is criminal for companies to collect certain values of money, and rather than remitting same will shut down by declaring themselves bankrupt, without any such declaration from a competent court”.
The affected companies include, GAC Shipping Nigeria Limited, Daddo Maritime Services Ltd, Bluesea Maritime Services Ltd, Maesk Nigeria Ltd, Hull Blyth and Inchcape Shipping Services Ltd.
Some of them owned up to owing certain amounts of money, but figures they quoted were less than what were before the committee.
The committee has however directed the companies to furnish it with their up to date reconciled balances with NIMASA, evidences of all payments made to NIMASA within the period under review, their bank statement to cover payments made, and other evidences that will assist the panel in its investigation before next Tuesday.