March 28, 2023

Maritime Today Online

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Reps summon NNPC GMD, Amaechi over award of coastal shipping contract to foreigner

The House of Representatives has summoned the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, over the alleged award of a coastal shipping contract to a foreign company.

Legor Idagbor, Chairman of the House Committee on Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring, issued the summons on Wednesday during an investigative hearing on the contract allegedly awarded in 2020.

He stated that awarding the contract to a foreign company, UNIBROS, breached the law while asking the NNPC GMD to appear before the committee on October 13.

The House noted that if the NNPC failed to appear, the process of the law and the powers given to the National Assembly would be followed to deal with the corporation.

The House also summoned the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

He directed the NNPC, transportation ministry, and the NCDMB to furnish the committee with details of the contract.

According to a letter from the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mohammed Nami, read at the hearing, UNIBROS was not registered in its database, and that payment had been made in the name of the company.

President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), George Onyung, who was at the hearing, explained that the NNPC sidelined local shippers and, without due process, awarded the contract to UNIBROS, even though local shippers could do the job.

“The NNPC awarded the contract to UNIBROS. It is a coastal shipping contract. It is one contract, but for 11 vessels. That is the whole share of the coastal shipping,” Mr Onyung explained. “This means that when those vessels that bring products from abroad arrive in Nigeria, the ships that would take the products to various jetties that have the shallow draft, which is a cabotage trade to start with, is supposed to be domiciled in Nigeria.”

He added that the NNPC hired up to 14 ships for the trade and then supplied the products.

“They gave it to one company called UNIBROS, and all those ships are foreign flags, all are foreign-owned, and they do not hire Nigerians.

Mr Idagbor observed that based on the submissions of the ship owners’ association, they had shown that they could handle the contract.