The crisis in the Nigerian Shipowners’ Association (NISA) has continued to deepen. The association has said that Capt. Niyi Labinjo ceases to be its President. Aminu Umar, the Acting President of the association, said that the executives of the association unanimously asked Labinjo to step aside until he clears his name in a $5.85million scandal involving him and an indigenous shipping firm, Accenk Maritime and Energy Services Limited. “A committee of the exco made up of ship owners and ship finance experts was set up to review all information at our disposal. We have therefore decided that the President should step aside to allow him concentrate on clearing his involvement in this allegation and to allow the association to focus on our aim and objectives,” Umar, who was represented at the briefing by the General Secretary of the association, Tunji Brown said.
He said Labinjo had not been sacked or suspended from the association but was only asked to step aside from the office of President. “He has not been sacked, however, as long as the investigation continues he cannot represent the Nigerian Shipowners’ Association in any official capacity and no transaction should be entered into with him on behalf of NISA. “Please be assured that our decision is devoid of any personal, sectional or parochial interest. NISA must continue to make progress on its aims and objectives such that will ensure industry confidence, create jobs and ensure that the maritime industry takes its rightful position as a major contributor to the national economy,” the Acting NISA President stated.
Umar described all the decisions taken by Labinjo since he was asked to step aside by the NISA exco on 4th February 2015 as null and void. “We are not aware of any Greek transaction to supply vessels to any members. It was done at his own peril…Exco has the power to suspend or ask him to step aside but if it is to remove him as the President, which is when we will go to the house for approval. We do not need to go to the house before we can suspend him and that was why the excos in conjunction with the Board of Trustees of the association asked him to step aside,” Umar said.
The acting NISA President also said that there were moves to convert the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) into a Maritime bank. He said the initiative would make more funds available for industry stakeholders and create more jobs. “When this comes on stream, the CVFF will be so small compared to what the maritime bank will be able to achieve. It will also make the funds easily accessible by ship owners,” he said.
He expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for extending the phase out of single hull vessels till 2020. “We will, therefore, like to commend NIMASA for the unprecedented bold initiative to extend the operation of single hull tankers to year 2020. They have exercised these powers in line with IMO regulations that allow flag states to use their prerogatives. We will continue to work with NIMASA to create an enabling environment that will remove the obstacles on the way of profitable operation of indigenous shipping,” he said.
Present at the briefing were General Secretary of the association, Tunji Brown who represented the Acting President, Umar Aminu; Publicity Secretary, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori; Assistant General Secretary, Ashinwo St Peters; Financial Secretary, Dele Lanisa and Welfare Officer, Gbolahan Adu.
By Pita Ochai