The House of Representatives has ordered the immediate suspension of the planned disbursement of $700 million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund to Nigerians and companies by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Rep. Henry Nwawuba (PDP-Imo) during plenary in Abuja.
The House also asked the Minister of State for Transportation and NIMASA Director-General to report to the House Committee on Local Content on the state of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund and how the funds have been applied over the past 20 years.
The House also directed the agency to present an audited statement of account showing all monies that have accrued to the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund within seven days.
The lawmakers directed its Committee on Local Content to engage an External Auditor to audit all contracts entered into in the cabotage regime and report the same to the House within seven days.
The committee is also to commence immediate investigations into the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund to determine all monies that have accrued to the fund since its establishment in 2003 and report to the House within 14 days.
Nwawuba said “the House notes that the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003 to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity by providing financial assistance to Nigerian operators in the domestic coastal shipping.
“The House is aware that in addition to monies allocated to the fund by an Act of the National Assembly, the fund draws from two percent (2%) of all contract sum performed by any vessel engaged in the coastal trade, and all monies generated pursuant to the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003;
“The House is concerned that since the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, there have been no reliable data as to the total amount that has so far accrued to the Fund and thus, there is no certainty as to the actual worth of the fund at the moment.
“The House is also concerned that since the establishment of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund in the year 2003, there is no record of any Nigerian citizen or company who have officially benefited from the fund as stated in the Act.
“The House recalls that in 2018, the then Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Dr Dakuku Peterside said the agency had concluded necessary documentation needed for the disbursement of the CVFF. He gave the accruals from the fund at that time to be in excess of US$100 million however, there is no record of such disbursement.