Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Lawyer says diversion of Nigerian-bound Oil and Gas cargo illegal, economic sabotage

A legal
practitioner, Mr John Ikezugo has said that the diversion of Nigerian bound
vessels carrying oil and gas cargo to any other country or designated port
terminals for discharge is illegal and an economic sabotage.

Ikezugo made
the statement in Abuja when he reacted to a report published by
Vanguard Newspaper on Aug. 3, 2014 which claimed that importers of oil and gas
cargo were diverting vessels from Onne port in Nigeria to Cotonou in Republic
of Benin.

The report
also stated that the diversions was in protest of a Federal Government
directive that owners of private jetties should discharge oil and gas carrying
vessels at designated terminals and not at their jetties.

“There is no
legal or administrative basis for diversion of Nigerian bound cargoes away from
oil and gas designated terminals in Nigeria. If the report is correct then the
action of those involved amounts to economic sabotage.

“Even the interim injunctions granted in the Ports and Terminal Operators
Nigeria Limited (PTOL) and the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) cases have
expired by operation of the law,” he said.

It will be
recalled that some companies that have refused to comply with the Federal
Government directive issued in April this year that owners of private jetties
should discharge oil and gas vessels at designated terminals have resorted to
all sorts of tactics to operate from their comfort zones.

A top
official of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) who spoke on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorised to speak on the subject also agreed that the
illegality of diverting oil and gas cargoes meant for discharge at Nigerian
ports amounts to economic sabotage.

The official,
however, confirmed that the authority is going ahead with the implementation of
handling of all oil and gas related cargoes at designated terminals.

According to Ikezugo,
“it is perhaps the fact of the continued implementation that has led to the
alleged protest.

“The status quo, in all respects, even with respect to the cases in court is
that NPA is free to continue with the implementation of the policy pending the
outcome of the applications in court for interlocutory injunctions which are
yet to be argued.”

speaking, a maritime expert, Kolawole Olatunbosun said that the decision of the
importers to divert Nigeria bound oil and gas cargo is a dangerous dimension to
the defiance of the affected operators in resisting the implementation of
Federal Government’s directive which in itself constitutes economic sabotage.

“This is very
unfair to the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari who is pushing for more
funds for development programs in Nigeria. I do not see how he will condone
this illegality by importers,’’ Olatunbosun said.

He said that the argument by the importers that they were shunning designated
ports in the country because of arbitrary charges on services is just untrue
querying “how much do they save by diverting their cargoes”.

“They are
fighting what they call a monopoly created by the designation of terminals and
the directive to discharge their cargoes at designated ports.

“The point is that there are ports for certain types of cargo. While some ports
charge less for lighter cargoes, heavier and complicated cargoes which call for
more sophisticated handling are more expensive to clear.

“Some importers prefer to take the risk of discharging their oil and gas cargo
at cheaper rates in non-designated ports rather than at the appropriate
terminals and this causes a huge revenue loss to government.

“Government loses $4.4 million US Dollars per tonne of oil and gas cargo not
discharged at the designated terminal,’’ he said.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.