Stakeholders Fault CVFF Accruals, Call For Forensic Audit, Threaten Legal Action     

Even as maritime industry stakeholders await recommendations of the committee that was set up by the Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi on the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), there have been questions about it’s the exact amount in the portfolio.

The committee is headed by Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Dr Dakuku Peterside.

Shipping Position Daily recalls that both the Minister and the DG of NIMASA; had put the CVFF accruals at $200Million, but some ship owners who spoke with our correspondents last week, faulted the figure. They called for a forensic audit of the CVFF account.

A particular ship owners group even gave our correspondent ‘proof’ that as far back as 2014, the CVFF had netted about US124Million.

In its statement to Shipping Position Daily, the group argued that, as far back as 2014, NIMASA confirmed that there was N30Billion and US$57Million in the CVFF account. 

It further argued that, “even if no more money was collected on account of CVFF since 2014, the =N=30 billion when converted to USD at 360 current BLACK MARKET rate plus US$57 million, would give you surely be in excess of US$140 million, which is indisputably more than US$124 million reported by the DG, after more than four years later (1st July 2014 to Aug 2018). 

Accusing the NIMASA DG of not totally open on the CVFF, the group added that “the exchange rate in 2014 was N150 to $1. If we use the current CBN official rate, it will be N305 not N360, the black market rate.” 

“We are meeting to fashion out ways to compel the DG NIMASA to tell our members and indeed stakeholders and Nigerians, the actual accruals to the last kobo. Members may resort to court action or resolve to approach the court if all avenues to get the figures are rebuffed by the NIMASA management”, the group threatened last week. 

It stated that, “the patience of members, who are indeed the owners of the money have been wretched to its elastic limit and they may not agree to continue to wait indefinitely. To know the accruals is very central, so that members will know the exact amount that is available before attempts are made to access the CVFF”, they explained. 

Speaking in the same vein, a ship owner, who also pleaded to be anonymous, told our correspondent that the figures that NIMASA is brandishing do not add up.   

According to him, “in 2014, NIMASA claimed to have $124million in the CVFF. Now over six years later, NIMASA has a mere $200million”. 

Doing a comparison between NIMASA and the Nigerian Local Content Development Board (NCDMB), the ship owners said, while the local content board  has a very huge accruals. 

According to him, the “NCDMB which collects 1% surcharge from 2010 has over $700m, all ships that contribute 1% to NCDMB are definitely Cabotage vessels (foreign and domestic) and must therefore contribute 2% to NIMASA.  Therefore, NIMASA should have at least twice as much amount as NCDMB.” 

Arguing further, he said, “considering that NIMASA started the collection of Cabotage fees with effect from 2004, the fund should be about three times what NCDMB has”. 

According to him, “there is a need for forensic audit of the CVFF account, ask the Hon Minister of Transportation and the DG of NIMASA to explain to Nigerians”.