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Senate’s ultimatum to NPA to account for 282 missing vessels expires today

The four days ultimatum handed down on the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to account for the 282 missing vessels, which berthed in Nigeria’s seaports without records, will expire at the end of work today.

Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, chaired by Chief Hope Uzodinma, had on Thursday last week, told the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, at an investigative hearing to furnish the panel with details of the vessels within four days.

Giving the ultimatum during last week’s hearing, Uzodinma said it was determined to put an end to “this villainous assault on the economy,” assuring that the committee is set out to get to the bottom of the organised crime, with future proof of ways at eradicating “this gruesome menace.”

“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.”

Business Hilights recalls that the Nigerian Senate had mandated the Committee to probe the alleged N30tn revenue loss through Nigerian borders and the ports.

In his ruling, Uzodinma, who chided NPA leadership for not honouring two earlier invitations by the committee, made it clear that failure to meet the four-day ultimatum would force the Senate to treat the matter as a financial crime.

According to him, “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 either 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.”

The Committee chairman, 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.

Continuing, he averred that “Preliminary evidence before us suggests 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.”

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