Vessels auction: My approval legal — Malami
THE Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Sunday, clarified that due process of law was followed in the approval granted to a firm, Omoh Jay Nig Ltd, to dispose of vessels. He said the approval followed the final forfeiture order obtained by his office and the presidential directive of October 25, 2018.
A statement by Dr Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant to the Minister on Press and Public Relations, said: “As far as the question of the criminality of Omoh Jay Nigeria Ltd is concerned, it is not before the office of the AGF and, for the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that the disposal of the vessels under reference was conducted with due process, following a report submitted by the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing on the value of these assets.”
Malami explained that Omoh Jay Nigeria Ltd is one among the 38 auctioneers appointed by his office after being selected during the opening of the pre-qualification bid. He said the disposal of the vessels was also done following final forfeiture order obtained by his office, adding that recovered monies are paid into the Federal Government recovery account.
It added: “As at date, the recovered monies for the sale of MT Asteris with crude oil and content in MT Anuket Emerald has been paid into the FGN Asset Recovery Account domiciled at CBN.” Malami said the process that led to the purported auction in contention had its antecedence in a letter with reference number (DPR/ SM/ROM/OPS/V.2/285), dated August 11, 2009, from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, entitled, “Re: Update on the status of vessels arrested for illegal bunkering – MT Akauda and MT HOPE.”
The statement said by letter, the Chief of Naval Staff was notified that “considering the deteriorating state of the vessels as evidenced by frequent ingress of water into the tanks, which threatens the environment as expressed in your letter referenced above, and in order to avoid possible spillage from the vessels and consequent environmental pollution, we wish to state clearly that we do not have any objection with the evacuation of the vessels.
“Evidenced by the above correspondence, it is only reasonable and logical to conclude that the process of the auction as it relates to the vessel was at the multi-institutional instance out of environmental concerns and the process that ensued eventually entertained public expression of interest on account of which Omoh-Jay Nigeria Limited is one.”
Malami, in the statement, said: “I make bold to state that Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd was in no way known, associated or related to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, either in his official or personal capacities.”
He said the publication by some news medium on July 12, 2020, alleging that he granted approval to Omoh Jay Nig Ltd, purportedly standing trial in court for stealing crude oil, diesel to auction goods seized from it was misleading and aimed at confusing the public and tarnishing his image.