House of Reps query NIMASA’s $326m payment to Tompolo’s firm



15 October 2013, Lagos – THE House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee constituted to investigate the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) has queried the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA’s over the $326million payment to Global West Specialist Vessels Limited, a company purported owned by Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo.

The House Committee which was set up to ascertain how much has accrued into the CVFF as well as the interest, how much has been disbursed and to whom also demanded to know why such huge payment was made to Global West..

During the investigation, a member of the Committee Dr Adejare Samuel Babatunde worry at the volume of money paid to one single company, demanding that a proper Bank statement of account of the CVFF be forwarded to the Committee.

The Committee was also irked at the payment of 50 percent of NIMASA’s generated revenue to the said company, a development they say is variance with laid down financial regulations of Government.
The Committee however picked holes in the NIMASA’s CVFF accounts and demanded

for explanation on the movement of monies from that account to others accounts.

Besides the unauthorized movements of monies from the Fund, the Committee also demanded the names and the consultants engaged by NIMASA and how much has been paid to them.

The Committee also called for an amendment of the Cabotage Act with a view to quickening the process of disbursement of the CVFF which has been hampered by the guidelines.

“The guidelines can be changed any time but changing the law is more cumbersome because by your explanation, we will run into trouble by 2015 when double hull vessels will be phased out.
“We also want the break down of the interest that accrued to the Fund on a year by year basis” Adejare said.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Honourable Aminu Tambuwal expressed concerned at the state of the Nigerian maritime industry which he said has been occasioned by ineptitude and poor regulatory framework.

His words “ The fear is that some unpatriotic people are misapplying the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund to the detriment of its objectives.

“Following the concern expressed by stakeholders and the Nigerian public on the irregularities occasioned by the misapplication of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, the House considered a motion on the subject matter and resolved to set up the Ad-hoc Committee top investigate theapplication of the Fund so as to address the challenges and find a way forward|”.

Speaking in defense of the payment NIMASA’s Director General Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi said that there was an agreement between the Federal through the agency and the firm.

Akpobolokemi explained that the agreement was that for any extra revenue generated by NIMASA, 50 percent of such generated revenue be paid as consultancy fee to Global West.

The agency boss stated that some consultants were engaged to grow the Fund of the agency adding that the CVFF is put in tenured accounts so as to grow the Fund.

He explained that in the agreement government went into with Global West, it was expected of the firm to provide platforms and intelligence that will assist the agency in blocking loopholes and fighting crimes that will hitherto increase its financial profile.

The Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds currently stands at over N30billion inclusive of its interest and about six indigenous shipping companies have applied to access the Fund.

The applicants, Vanguard gathered are currently under going security screening by government the Fund will be disbursed.

Efforts to reach the management of Global West Specialist Vessels Limited were futile as the firm’s spokesman Mr. Paul Bebenimibo refused to take calls and text message sent to his phone.

– Godwin Oritse, Vanguard

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