Integrated Logistics Services (Intels), the services company owned by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, has had a terrible past few days.
Strike 1: Following an advice from the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) terminated the lucrative boats pilotage arrangement that it had with the company. The company intends to challenge the decision in court.
Strike 2: Now the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has accused the company of not paying taxes, pasting a non-compliance sticker at the Onne headquarters of the company. The FIRS has said the non-compliance sticker does not mean the company has been shut down.
“FIRS did not carry out any enforcement on Intels. Our team only pasted a non-compliance sticker on the premises of the company… the non-compliance stickers are routine. We did not seal nor close the company. Intels is free to carry out its operations. It is not a distrain sticker,” an official said.
What this means:
There are speculations that the move against Intels by the authorities is part of a grand plot against Atiku, who is purportedly interested in mounting another bid for the presidency in 2019. Intels is his most lucrative business venture. The company stands to lose several millions of dollars in commissions for the monitoring and supervision pilotage services it handles on behalf of NPA.
In the maritime industry, pilotage is compulsory for all ships of 35 metres overall length or greater unless a valid Pilotage Exemption Certificate is held by the ship’s master. In return for the service, ship owners/companies are required to pay a pilotage fee, which Intels collects on NPA’s behalf and retains 28 per cent of the revenue as commission for the services rendered.
In his letter to the NPA Managing Director over the 2010 pilotage agreement, Nigeria’s attorney-general, Abubakar Malami, said “I have been able to conclude inevitably that the terms of the agreement as agreed by parties and the dynamics of its implementation which permits Intels to receive revenue generated on behalf of NPA ab initio, clearly violates express provisions of Sections 80(1) and 162(1) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). It is thus curious that parties did not avert their minds to the above provisions of the constitution whilst negotiating the agreement.
“The inherent illegality of the agreement as formed has since been expounded by the TSA policy issued by the Head of Service of the Federation on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria directing all ministries, departments and agencies to collect payment of all revenues due to the federal government or any of her agencies through the TSA.”