Written by¬†Sulaimon Olanrewaju
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, has debunked the rumour making the round that the agency was engaged in ethnic cleansing.
Akpobolokemi, during an interactive session with the media in Lagos on Thursday, disclosed that Chapter 7 Section 7(10) of NIMASA Act provides for those who have five years or less to their retirement, either as a result of age or years of service, to opt for early retirement with full benefits, adding that the management of NIMASA did not push out any staff ‚Äúbut some staff, in order to benefit from this provision, voluntarily opted for early retirement.‚Äù
The DG stated, ‚ÄúThere is no ethnic cleansing in NIMASA. There is no basis for it. Those who are retiring are the ones who opted for early retirement.‚Äù
Speaking on the faceoff between NIMASA and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) which resulted in the agency stopping the company from exporting gas from its facilities in Bonny, Rivers State, Akpobolokemi said it was based on the insistent of NIMASA on collecting its statutory levies and the refusal of NLNG to comply with extant laws of the country.
According to the DG, ‚Äúthe Act setting up NIMASA empowers it to collect payment of levies based on gross freight on exports and imports and the Cabotage Law. Specifically, Section 15(A) of the Act authorises NIMASA to demand and collect three per cent of gross freight on all international inbound and outbound cargo from ships or shipping companies operating in Nigeria.‚Äù
Akpobolokemi stated that NIMASA staff stopping NLNG from exporting gas from its facilities did not amount to self help as the Act establishing the agency empowered it to do so.
NLNG has, however, maintained its position that the NIMASA Act of 2007 does not override the NLNG Act of 2004. In an advertisement on Thursday, the company ‚ÄúAs affirmed by the courts (up to the Supreme Court) in numerous judgements including that on the NLNG/NDDC case, a special Act, like the NLNG Act, can only be superseded by a new Act, where such new legislation states so in express terms. The NIMASA Act does not do so, and as such does not override the NLNG Act.‚Äù
On the efforts by his agency to stem the tide of oil theft, Akpobolokemi said the agency had arrested many oil thieves and pirates saying that the only problem was with prosecution.
‚ÄúMost times, prosecution is delayed or ineffective. If prosecution of oil thieves and pirates had been 30 per cent effective, oil theft would have drastically reduced in the country,‚Äù he said.