Operators in the Nigerian fish trading industry have faulted the decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in allocating fish import rights without recourse to due process.
The fish traders, under the umbrella name of Nigeria Fish Traders Association, in a Save Our Soul message made available to journalists, noted that the Federal Department of Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture was contravening the laws guiding the operation of their business by allocating import licence which is against extant laws.
According to the SOS, “under the current democratic dispensation in Nigeria, no new law can come into operation without the passing of the bill by the National Assembly.
“If this is the norm, why then should the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, and the Director of Fisheries, Mrs. Folake Areola, without any laid down and distinct formula allocate fish import quota or rights to any company in the country through the Federal Department of Fisheries issuance of letter of clearance for foreign exchange purposes?
“The fisheries letter of clearance for foreign exchange purposes to fish importers registered with it is not an import licence for fish.
“The Federal Department of Fisheries does not and in all of its existence has never issued any import license for fish.”
The SOS letter also pointed out some irregularities in the Fish Farm Estate Programme, which the traders claim, “12 beneficiaries were to receive N15 million grant each in early 2013 (totalling N180 million), and till date none of the beneficiaries has collected any amount.
“Whereas the custodian of the fund, Fidelity Bank Plc claims that the Ministry of Agriculture had signed out the money without regard to the MoU of the programme.”
The fish traders, however, called on the federal government to set up a panel to investigate the activities of the Ministry of Agriculture, and correct the several irregularities in the ministry