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SOAN indicts NNPC over anti-cabotage act

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Ship Owners Association of Nigeria SOAN has expressed its disgust to a perceived determination of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC to break the law of the land, by deliberate registration of foreign-flagged vessels, into the Cabotage regime, for Coastal shipping of Petroleum products.

The body of revered stakeholders was particularly miffed that the NNPC decided to play the deaf, even after multiple layers of deliberations, involving other stakeholders, which included NCDMB and the Joint Senate Committee on Local Content, Downstream Sector and Legislative Compliance, as well as the House of Representatives Committee on Local Content.

A letter of protest already dispatched to relevant authorities, but Particularly to the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, signed by SOAN President, Dr. Mkgeorge Okon Onyung, said the annomally was giving SOAN members great concern.

“It is of grave concern to this laudable initiative that foreign-flagged vessels operated by Messrs UNIBROS/ORION MARINE are issued waivers from your good office to partake in the domestic shipping of petroleum products in contravention of our Cabotage and Local Content legislations.

ORION MARINE is just an agency and not OWNER of vessels presented to you”, Dr. Onyung pointed out, furnishing other details.

“During the Legislative public hearings, vide a letter from the Chairman of FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE SERVICE (FIRS), UNIBROS is not a Nigerian registered taxpayer but has operated in Nigeria illegally for over ten years.

“We bring this to your notice to exercise your mandate to stop any illegality and ensure they pay relevant Customs import duties on these vessels, with evidence provided before adopting the Nigerian flag, just like the Nigerian-owned and flagged vessels operated by Nigerians. “Or arrest these vessels immediately, causing them to pay the prescribed Federal Government taxes they have been illegally avoiding, and charge them the requisite penalties in line with section 35 for offences against the Cabotage act.

“NNPC has endorsed Nigerian Ships as they have met all legal and technical compliance requirements of the Cabotage Acts, including flying the NIGERIAN flag, import duty payment, taxes, etc., to mention a few”, the SOAN Arrowhead posited, stressing that the current position of the NNPC, actually “tantamount to an act of ECONOMIC SABOTAGE”, especially if these foreign-flagged vessels were allowed to operate in our waters with total disregard to our extant laws and regulations.

“We reiterate that NIMASA, under your leadership, is vested with the power and legal backing to protect and promote indigenous shipping development.

SOAN: Shipping holds the key to nation’s economic emancipation- Dr Onyung

The body of Nigeria Shipowners expressed their implicit confidence in the ability of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, to harmonize and collaborate with the NNPC, towards unlocking the economic prosperity and sustainability of the nation’s maritime industry.

They nonetheless, thanked Mele Kyari for finally breaking an over 40-year jinx by giving Nigerian shipping companies the commercial opportunity to supply coastal vessels to NNPC/Marine Logistics for shipping of petroleum products with Nigerian Flagged Coastal tankers.

“Your agency’s efforts and the proactive steps taken by the Executive Secretary, NIGERIAN CONTENT DEVELOPMENT AND MONITORING BOARD (NCDMB), and House of Assembly is highly commendable and most appreciated”, the body stressed, maintaining that the good gesture should not be messed up, by another seemingly deliberate breaking of the Nigerian law!.

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