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‘Report on $4.6m demurrage payment not ready’

Mr. Dayo Bush-Alebiosu

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Mr. Dayo Bush-Alebiosu, has said the report of the investigation into the alleged daily payment of $4.6m to operators of 16 trapped foreign vessels loaded with petroleum products is not ready.

The House had on February 13 mandated its Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream), Navy and Public Accounts to investigate how much the Federal Government had paid to the owners of the foreign vessels operating in the country.

The resolution was sequel to a motion raised by Bush-Alebiosu, who said the Federal Government had for over three months been paying $4.6m daily as demurrage to owners of about 16 vessels yet to discharge their contents.

The   lawmaker, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent on Monday, said the development was responsible for the current scarcity of petrol in parts of the country.

He said, “We had requested that the Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream), Navy and Public Accounts to investigate and report back to the House within a two-week period, but we have not had plenary session because of the budget defence. I believe the budget issue may have affected that, but I want to believe that the investigations are ongoing.

“At least, it is now obvious that my concerns are now being addressed. I was reliably informed that there are about 16 vessels containing petroleum products that are not cleared to enter our territorial waters and they are being paid $300,000 each per day.

“The vessels have been hanging there for over three months now. I got this information a week before February 13, when I raised the alarm that we were in for another round of fuel scarcity if those vessels were not allowed to come in.

“The implication is that the 16 ships are paid $4.6m per day multiplied by the number of days they have been hanging there. The signal I got was that these ships were even found safe to enter our territorial waters; so, all that was left was the discharge to smaller vessels and the subsequent discharge into tank farms.”

Bush-Alebiosu said as a concerned Nigerian, he was worried that over $500m might have been wasted, adding that this would have adverse effect on the economy, and was responsible for the scarcity of petrol currently being experienced in many parts of the country.

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