TRADE Union Congress (TUC) Wednesday urged the Federal Government to prevail on Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to pay all
outstanding dues allegedly owed Nigerian Maritime and Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Maritime workers yesterday also petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over alleged violation of laws by NLNG Limited and its refusal to pay statutory levies.
In fact, they, under the aegis of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), may embark on industrial action, closing all ports
nationwide in the next three weeks. According to TUC, there is also a need for the government to bring to book all those directly or indirectly involved in the face-off. A statement by TUC’s President-General, Peter Esele and General Secretary, Musa Lawal, said:
“The Congress will like to use this opportunity to charge the Federal Government to call NLNG to order by ensuring that every dime is paid to
NIMASA. We also want government to take advantage of the meeting slated for tomorrow (today) in Abuja to address the saga and bring accomplices to book. We do not want to envisage any iota of compromise against the interest of the country.”
It explained that no individual or corporate organisation is above the law. “The institution of the state must be allowed to carry out its function without interference and in accordance with the act establishing it. It is our hope that the Abuja meeting respects that,” TUC said.
According to TUC, at the inception of the LNG project in 1988/1989, the Federal Government did not only “recognise the company’s pioneer
status within the provisions of the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act 1971, but also magnanimously granted it a package of
investment incentives including a 10-year tax holiday under the Nigeria LNG (Fiscal Incentives Guarantees and Assurances) Act Cap. N87 Laws
of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (“NLNG Act”)on certain conditions”.
It added: “In 1997, the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces (Gen. Sani Abacha) had by a letter dated
August 20, 1997, conveyed through the Federal Ministry of Transport, directed that NLNG should comply with the extant law at the time, being the National Shipping Policy Act of 1987, which mandated it to pay the then two per cent statutory levy on international inbound and
outbound cargo, as well as submit to routine inspection by the relevant government agencies.”
In an open letter read in Lagos yesterday, the MWUN drew the attention of President Jonathan to the lingering face-off.
Addressing the workers at Apapa Port, President General of the union, Emmanuel Nted, alleged that NLNG has violated the law that established maritime agency (NIMASA Act 2007) and its Section 15, which stipulates that it shall be funded by “three per cent of gross freight on all international inbound and outbound cargoes from ships or shipping companies operating in Nigeria.”
He observed that NIMASA is the only agency of government saddled with maritime labour issues in Nigeria, particularly as regards the
training of seafarers and dockworkers. “It is, therefore, in this respect that we are particularly surprised to learn of the flagrant refusal of the NLNG to pay the statutory levies due to the government on its shipping activities, as well as the two per cent on its cabotage activities in Nigeria’s coastal waters.
“The said refusal by the NLNG to pay the accumulated three per cent gross freight on its business activities from its inception in 1989 to
date, has drastically reduced the revenue available to NIMASA and in turn undermined its ability to carry out its operations, perform its
statutory responsibilities and in particular, compromised its ability to meet its core functions with respect to maritime Labour issues in Nigeria,” Nted said.