Labinjo speaks on $6.5m vessel purchase scandal, suspension as NISA President

For the first time since we broke the story of his alleged involvement in a $6.5million ship purchase scandal with an indigenous firm, Acenk Maritime and Energy Services Limited, suspended President of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), retired Navy Capt. Niyi Labinjo has spoken exclusively to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on the matter and on his suspension as NISA President by the executives of the association on Thursday last week.

Labinjo and his wife, Bola were arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday last week and released on Wednesday night on bail.

When asked for his views on his suspension as NISA President, Labinjo said, “I don’t know about that. It was still an allegation and where does allegation become a fact? Allegation has never become a fact in life.”

On the ship purchase scandal, he said the accusations of fund diversion leveled against him by the Managing Director of Acenk Maritime and Energy Services Limited, Mrs. Adenike Jolapamo-Onifade, were still allegations.

“It is an allegation and because an important agency like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is involved, I think the best thing is to go to EFCC to ask them how far they have gone.”

He said as far as he was concerned, he remained President of the association.

Meanwhile, NISA has explained reasons behind its decision to suspend Labinjo.

Publicity Secretary of the association, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori said that at the onset of the story on the $6.5million ship purchase scandal involving Labinjo, his wife and Acenk Maritime and Energy Services Limited broken by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Monday 26th January 2015, the NISA executives had been inundated with calls for a response in the interest of the industry and the association.

“We refrained from taking any hasty decision but sought clarification from various sources including Capt Labinjo.

“A committee of the exco made up of shipowners and ship finance expert was set up to review all information at our disposal including letter from the EFCC requesting that we the exco should produce the president.

“We are conscious of the negative impact on our members interests, businesses and the industry in general as long as this situation of the allegation persists,” he said.

While stating that the decision to suspend Labinjo as NISA President was taken unanimously by the association’s executives, Ilori said it had become necessary for the embattled President to “concentrate on clearing his involvement in this allegation” and allow the association focus on its aims and objectives.

“Mr Aminu Umar, the Vice President will be acting as President. Please be assured that our decision is devoid of any personal, sectional or parochial interests.

“We ask for your support as we concentrate on delivering on the aims and objectives of NISA.

“I will ask that we should please remember the Labinjos, the Nigerian Shipowners Association and the nation in our prayers at these challenging times,” he said.

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