House C’ttee Summons Emefiele over Forex Sale by IOCs

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  •  Navy: Vessels berth in Lome due to numerous charges

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the Review of Petrol Prices monday summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, over the sale of $1 billion by international oil companies (IOCs) to major importers in 2016.

This is as the Nigerian Navy (NN) said fuel importers berth their vessels in neighboring countries including Lome, Togo because of the numerous charges levied on them by different agencies included in the petroleum pricing template.

Emefiele is expected to explain how the powers of the IOCs, which empower them to act as financial house for the sale of foreign exchange to oil importers, and to the CBN itself.

The Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe (Imo PDP)-led committee issued the summons following the revelation by the CBN Director of Financial Markets, Mr. Alvan Ikokun, that the IOCs have been selling foreign exchange.

Igbokwe noted that the CBN had implied it was experiencing difficulties in assessing foreign exchange to be able to import the products.

He directed that Emefiele should appear at the next sitting with details of dealers who received forex from January 2015 to date, the banks through which the monies were remitted, criteria used to access the funds, and other relevant documentation.

The Nigerian Navy Director of Marine Services, Commodore A.A Efedue, while speaking at the hearing, said there were vessels at the Lagos harbor, and there have been no reports of any attacks on them.

“I have interacted with marketers; what I have been told is that security is not the issue, but the numerous charges they are subjected to by the agencies. If security is the issue, why are the vessel, including those with products at Lagos harbour, not attacked? Why are they (oil importers) the only ones talking about insecurity,” he queried.

Efedue added that there are vessels at Lagos anchorage and offshore, which sometimes have to remain there for weeks while waiting to go into the harbor.

“There are patrol boats, so why can’t they dock there if there is no other thing chasing them from, Lagos waters…I am still talking about charges, if we can look into that,” he added.

Efedue added that the navy clearance, after inspection of relevant documents such as the certificate of quality, is issued free of charge, and therefore has no effect on the pricing template.

Also, Commodore E.O Bamidele of the navy Marine Services Department, said while there have been instances of piracy in the general area in Bayelsa State and Port Harcourt, there have been no issues in Lagos harbour.
He disclosed that all vessels in the harbour are monitored through their Automated Identification System (AIS) from relevant naval formations.

“It is when they want to perpetuate illegality that they switch off their AIS, and we would see that such vessel has gone off our radar. We direct our boats to approach the general area, and you usually find them doing a ship-to-ship transfer, and this is also the period when they are prone to attack,” he said.