Ship Owners Association raises alarm over N100m capital flight, losses for Nigeria

The Shipowners Association of Nigeria, (SOAN), has raised an alarm of $100Million in capital flight and losses to the country, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), recently contracted coastal and bunkering vessels services to a foreign shipping company, Messrs UNIBROS.

In a petition to the National Assembly, as well as to the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, signed by the SOAN’s
President, Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung, a copy of which he made available to newsmen, the beneficiary company, UNIBROS, operates under the guise of various foreign shell companies with eleven foreign-flagged coastal tanker vessels.

The shipowners urged the lawmakers to carry out a thorough investigation into the action of the NNPC, which according to them is in total breach and impetuous disregard for the Nigerian Content laws, the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act (Cabotage Act) and the Presidential Executive Order No.5, to the exclusion of Nigerian Shipowners and operators and to the detriment of the Nigerian economy.

According to the petition, “The Ship Owners Association of Nigeria hereby register our protest in this show of bad faith and unpatriotic attitude displayed by NNPC, even though Nigerian Shipowner‘s and operators have demonstrated capacity to operate this contract exclusively, and have expressed willingness to accept freight payments in Naira, whereas the NNPC is presently paying UNIBROS in US Dollars, further draining our extremely scarce foreign exchange resources.

“Take note that this contract award will result in amplification of capital flight, valued in excess of $100m annually to the detriment of our economy, in addition to the fact that no Customs import duty has been paid for any of the 11 vessels in question, again in breach of our nation’s fiscal and monetary policies.

“Nigerian-owned and flagged vessels are made to pay full customs duty and appropriate taxes on earnings that foreign shipping companies have continually evaded illegally. UNIBROS and/or any other foreign shell company does not pay any Tax To FIRS”.

It further said, “In the area of capacity building, no seafarer training or local content strategic plan is in place in line with the NOGCID laws. Neither UNIBROS nor any foreign shipowner or shipping company is made to comply with one of the major pre-qualification requirements for consideration in the CoastaI and Bunkering Vessels Service Tender process, being the submission and approval by NCDMB.

“We, therefore, implore you to use your good office to reverse and cancel this contract which was not subject to public tender, in line with our public procurement procedures”, the SOAN stated.

The association equally assured that its members are standing by with Medium-Range (MR), Long-Range (LR), and Handy-size Tanker Vessels to meet NNPC’s coastal and import shipping requirements within short notice, subject to bankable contract terms and conditions.

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