The Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) has debunked claims that it has entered into a partnership with Greece and Turkey to build ships.
NISA Publicity Secretary, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori, said this at a press conference in Lagos while announcing that its President, Captain Niyi Labinjo, had been asked to step aside following allegations of fraud from another member.
In his place, the Vice President, Aminu Umar, would act as President until the matter currently pending with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was resolved.
“NISA as a body is not aware of any such partnership. If indeed something like that took place, the announcement should either come from the General Secretary or me. Anyone who has made such a partnership does so at their own risk,” Ilori said.
A retired navy captain, Labinjo was last month questioned by the EFCC over his involvement in a $6.5m vessel purchase scandal between him, his wife and an indigenous shipping company, Acenk Maritime and Energy Services Limited.
Earlier, the NISA General Secretary, Tunji Brown, who represented Umar at the conference, said the executives of the association had taken the decision asking Labinjo to step aside.
Brown said, “A committee of the exco made up of shipowners and finance experts was set up to review all information at the association’s disposal at the time the scandal broke.
“We are conscious of the negative impact on our member’s interests, businesses and the industry as long as the situation of the allegation persists.
“We have therefore decided that the President should step aside to allow him to concentrate on clearing his involvement in this allegation and to allow the association to focus on its aims and objectives.
“Labinjo has been asked to provide evidence from the investigating authority that he has been absolved of any complicity in the allegations.”
Brown added that although Labinjo had not been sacked, he could not as long as the investigation was on, represent NISA in any official capacity nor enter into any transaction on behalf of the association.
He described all decisions taken by Labinjo since he was asked to step aside on February 4, 2015 as null and void.
He said it was imperative for NISA to make progress on its aims and objectives in a manner that would ensure industry confidence, create jobs and ensure the maritime industry took its rightful position as a major contributor to the national economy.
He also commended the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its bold initiative to extend the operation of single hull tankers to 2020.
Brown said the powers had been exercised in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations that allowed flag states to use their prerogatives.
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