By Ngozi Onyeakusi —The House of Representatives has raised alarm over how foreign shipping companies’ local agents are shortchanging the Federal government of revenue to the tune of over 300 million dollars.

House committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, investigating allegations of non remittance and ill practices by the shipping companies, revealed this at the investigative hearing in Abuja.

According to the committee, much monies amounting to 300million dollars from 3 per cent levy they collected on behalf of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), from international shipping companies had been diverted.

Chairman of the committee, Rep. Umar Bago, said that while it was common on the part of the shipping firms as receivers on behalf of NIMASA to receive 3 per cent levy from their parent companies ( as Nigeria agents), regrettably they deployed such monies for their personal use.

Bago added that at times they changed their corporate names, directors and decline to remit the funds to the nation’s consolidated fund account.

”You collect monies from international shipping companies, sit on the money, change your company names and directors, and do business with the funds without remitting to the consolidated fund, ” he said.

Recall that 12 local shipping firms, some of which have denied the allegation of wholesale indebtedness to government are currently being investigated by the House from 2004 till date.

They are: GAC, Daddo Maritime Services, Blue Sea, Divine Marine, Transoceanic support services, Inchcape shipping and Maersk.

Others are AlRaine, Hull Blyth CMA CGM- Delmas, Joe Eboje and Peak shipping.

In their presentations, those who appeared before the panel like, Gac, Inch Cape, faulted the amounts allegedly owed NIMASA.

For instance from the whooping 172million dollars, Gac argued that it owed less than 5million dollars and not 172million dollars.

It was the same position canvassed by Inch Cape and Hull Blyth.

Both claimed that the figures before the committee did not represent what they owe, since reconciliation of figures was continuous.

According to the firms, some payments made to NIMASA were not receipted, a development that has also jeopardized the reconciliation process.

But based on the revelation at the hearing, the committee had vowed to invoke Executive order six and a bench warrant of arrest on the chief executive officer of any of the erring companies

The committee added that the warrant of arrest would be on companies who may have made away with the country’s monies and those who declined to honor and appear before the House panel.

“Moreso, firms indicted will be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution,” Bago also warned.