The House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety and Education on Thursday alleged that the budget proposal for this year submitted by the management of the Maritime Academy, Oron, Akwa Ibom State, for considerations contained fictitious items in both its recurrent and capital expenditure in the 2016 budget.
The Muhammad Umar Bago-led Committee made the allegation when it received the Rector of the Academy, Engr. Anthony Ishiodu, and his management team for the defence of their 2015 budget and presentation and consideration of the 2016 proposal.
But as proceeding started, the lawmakers started raising eyebrows concerning the lack of details in the document presented before the committee, forcing series of questions establishing the existence of fault lines.
Both the chairman and members of the committee expressed displeasure over alleged discovery that most of the items listed as either ongoing or proposed projects were either inflated or non-existent.
A committee member, Dan Asuquo, who represents Akamkpa/Biase Federal Constituency of Cross River State, PDP, said, “It is amazing how fraud goes on in the maritime sector.
“On page 21 of this document, a N34million contract was given under the capital expenditure for the construction of a building in the school and this House in the 7th Assembly fought very hard to effect releases for the project.
“I have it on good authority that no payment has been made to the contractor despite the funds released in 2015, but here we are with a record showing that N20 million has been paid, leaving the balance of N14 million.
“This is fraud. A clear case of misappropriation and corruption because no single dime has been paid on the said project.”
The committee also discovered alleged fraudulent allocation of N100million for the purchase of two units of generators which already existed in the 2015 budget and for which the sum of N266 million had been proposed as maintenance fee, alongside vehicles in the same budget.
It was further discovered that on page two item 21 (a), of the 2015 budget, the “augmentation of personnel cost and payment of peculiar allowance” was N339million, but rose astronomically to N600.9million in the 2016 budget.
“There are some fictitious submissions here that are raising eyebrows. You have made so many assertions without showing us where the breakdown was done in the appendix.
“What we are seeing here doesn’t look like something we can work with, so you need to go back and bring a well detailed memorandum that’s comprehensive enough with supporting documents,” the House Committee Chairman told the bewildered MAN Oron officials.
The committee has also summoned 1,319 companies to appear before it during a public hearing on operational deficiencies at theNigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which is said to have lost over USD10billion in accruable revenue.
The committee said the affected companies would respond to questions relating to 3% freight levy, 2% Cabotage surcharge, sea protection levy and stevedoring, among others.
It said the process that led to the revenue leakages was benchmark approach, as opposed to actual freight charges in the determination of the 3%, midstream clearance and discharge of cargo vessels, among others.
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