NIMASA lifts blockade on NLNG

By The Citizen

There was relief for gas-dependent sectors of the economy on Sunday after the National Security Adviser,  Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and two ministers intervened in the feud between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigerian Liquefied Gas Company over unpaid levies.

Our correspondent gathered that Dasuki intervened in the dispute alongside the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, and her counterpart in the Ministry of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, and prevailed on NIMASA to lift a blockade it placed on vital channels of gas exports and imports by NLNG.

NIMASA had announced its decision to block gas imports and exports by NLNG as a punishment for alleged failure of the gas company to pay stipulated levies.

But it was gathered that NIMASA made a U-turn on Sunday to allow NLNG to continue with its operations after a peace talk that was held behind closed doors in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The lifting of the blockade, according a source who attended the meeting, was at the instance of the members of the Federal Executive Council, who were worried by the development.

Before lifting the embargo, the source, who pleaded anonymity, said the government officials at the meeting lampooned NLNG for its seeming unwillingness to pay appropriate taxes to relevant agencies of the government.

'They insisted at the meeting last night that the management of NLNG should sit down with NIMASA and  work out appropriate mechanism to settle all outstanding issues,' the source said.

Following the decision, he said the managing director of NLNG and his team held a meeting in Lagos to settle all outstanding issues.

He, however, said both sides were still mainttaining their positions, adding that Umar would lead further negotiations next week.

A statement by  NIMASA, signed by the Acting Director, Shipping Development, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, had on Friday indicated that the blockade of the NLNG vessels would not be lifted until the agency was satisfied that the company had fulfilled its statutory obligations to the country.

The statement explained that 'this course of action had been forced on the agency by NLNG's disregard and unwillingness to abide by the country's maritime laws, especially sections of the NIMASA Act that mandate payment of levies based on gross freight on exports and imports.'

But the NLNG, in another statement, accused NIMASA of resorting to self-help by embarking on the blockade.