The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has said that claims by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited that it rescued its men and some naval officials from drowning was part of an orchestrated plan to discredit the agency.
NLNG had recently claimed that it rescued some staff of the apex maritime regulatory body and some officers of the Nigerian Navy on board MT Bori, a tug boat from drowning. Deputy Director of the agency in charge of Public Relations, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, who spoke in Lagos, disclosed that there is no iota of truth in the claims by NLNG, which he also described as malicious.
According to him, MT Bori, was illegally used to tow MT Symphony, registered in Panama, which the agency got wind of and therefore stopped the operation since it was illegal. Osamgbi said: “It is pertinent to state that MT Symphony registered by the Flag State Authority of Panama was illegally being towed by MT Bori when NIMASA was contacted to stop the operation, a request that was promptly granted”.
“It is also necessary to state clearly that there was no NIMASA staff or Nigerian Navy personnel from the Maritime Guard Command of the agency on board the said MT Bori as alleged by the NLNG”, Osamgbi insisted.
He also said that apart from being false and misleading, the claim by the NLNG of rescuing members of staff and naval officials was obviously designed to embarrass NIMASA. “This rebuttal has become necessary in order to put the records straight. We consequently crave the indulgence of stakeholders to take note of this clarification”, the NIMASA chief image maker also said.
He also urged the maritime media to always verify reports before publication, adding that the communication channels of the agency are always open to treat all media enquiry and will continue to run an open door policy.
Sources however hinted that the recent report by the NLNG against NIMASA might be its way of taking its pound of flesh from the apes maritime regulatory body, which impounded its vessels some months ago for several weeks following the refusal of the former to pay its three percent statutory levy.
NLNG, had then claimed that the decision of the agency to halt its activities over non-payment of the statutory levy stalled the export of gas, through which the country lost huge sums of revenue as well as being responsible for the high cost of cooking gas.
But more than four months after the resolution of the crisis, after which NLNG also commenced the lifting of gas export, the cost of cooking gas has remained high as the 12.5KG cylinder, which used to sale for between N2000-N2, 300 now sells for as much as N300, 0000 – N3,500.