The Senate has ordered the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to, in four days, account for the 282 vessels, which berthed in Nigeria’s seaports without records.
The Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, Hope Uzodinma, told the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Usman, at an investigative hearing yesterday, to furnish the panel with details of the vessels.
Uzodinma stated that failure to meet the four-day ultimatum would force the Senate to treat the matter as a financial crime.
He said: “We are looking for these vessels. We have the dates of arrival, the ports of discharge and the manifests. Everything is with us, but information available to us is that no money was collected by the Nigeria Customs Service, the NPA or any other person.
“So, you have four days to do your written explanation, otherwise we will consider it a financial crime.
“There are also recent missing vessels that we discovered; I mean recent ones that happened under the new management. The NPA is the custodian of the vessels, it received the cargoes and the terminal is theirs. We want to know under whose authority the cargoes were released.”
Uzodinma had in his opening speech, said: “it was worrisome that leakages were costing Nigeria trillions of naira in revenue “and inversely constitute a clear and present security threat to our nation.
“It is common knowledge that infractions abound in daily transactions at the nation’s seaports, commercial banks, shipping companies, terminal owners and operators, who connive at ease with officials to defraud our dear nation of trillions of naira.
“Preliminary evidence before us suggest that this is the case in all seaports. Indeed, initial evidence at our disposal clearly suggests that the port cabal had in recent memory defrauded the nation of well over N30tn.
“It is distressing to note that while our nation is undergoing an exhausting recession, a group of unpatriotic persons who brazenly constitute themselves into a cabal are determined to deepen the pains of the nation through very repugnant practices.
“The Senate is determined to put an end to this villainous assault on the economy and has set out to get to the bottom of the organised crime.
“In doing so, we shall be minded by the reality that those who want to bleed the nation to death without remorse must be dealt with without reprieve. Consequently, all those indicted in this crime will be made to face the full wrath of the law.”