The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, has 4 days to explain the whereabouts of over 282 vessels allegedly missing from the sea ports.

She may face charges of financial crime if she fails to provide the information.

It was a demand made by the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport at an investigative hearing on 30 trillion Naira lost through leakages in Customs and other agencies.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, expressed displeasure with the Managing Director for not honouring the committee’s previous invitations.

“The information on the vessels is imperative and must be available within 4 days,” he insisted.

May Be Considered A Financial Crime

The committee threatened that the Senate may be compelled to pursue a financial crime case against Usman should she fail to heed the committee’s directive.

“We are looking for these vessels. We have the date of arrival, the ports of discharge and manifest.

“Everything is with us but in information available to us, no money was collected by Customs, the NPA or any other person.

“So, you have 4 days to do your written explanation otherwise, we will consider it a financial crime,’’ he said.

According to Uzodinma, there are other missing vessels that have been discovered.

“I mean recent ones that happened under the new management.

“The NPA is the custodian of the vessels. It received the cargoes and the terminal is theirs.

“We want to know under whose authority the cargoes were released,” he said.

The Port Cabal

The committee has also uncovered the activities of a port cabal that has defrauded the nation to the tune of over 30 Trillion Naira.

“It is common knowledge that infractions abound in daily transactions at the nation’s ports, commercial banks, shipping companies, terminal owners and operators.

“They connive at ease with officials to defraud the nation of trillions of Naira.

“Preliminary evidence before us suggests that this is the case in all sea ports,’’ he stressed.

These leakages, according to the lawmaker, are costing Nigeria huge revenue losses, while also constituting security threat.

Determined to tackle what he called assault on the economy, the Chairman of the committee emphasised that they would be minded by the reality that those who wanted to bleed the nation to death without remorse must be dealt with without reprieve.