The Nigeria Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing Sports Federation has pleaded with the Federal Government to release its boats that were seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC).
The president of the federation, retired Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni, made the plea at a demonstration event of the three sports at Jabi Lake in Abuja.
According to Porbeni, even the orders given by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the release of the boats, held at the Ikorodu sea port, fell on deaf ears.
Porbeni said a total of six boats were seized by the NCS in 2006 after the federation failed to pay clearing charges of about N5 million.
``Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had told the Nigerian Customs Service to waive the N5 million for us, but its officers refused.
``It’s an action of a bureaucrat that prevented us from getting the boats.
``I met a deputy director in the Transport ministry and he promised to get them for us, but up till now, no result; we hope it does not end there,’’ Porbeni said.
The retired naval officer noted that the action of the NCS could discourage the development of the sport in the country.
He expressed regrets that the incident took place when tax rebate and waivers were being given to companies and sports federations for the development of sports in the country.
``As a former minister of transport and admiral, I tried to get those boats out but to no avail.
`` I have not been to some ministries since I left office, but I went to the Ministry of Transport for the release of the boats.
``It was as though they were for my personal financial benefit.
``These are sporting equipment, not financial or leisure equipment. The international agency that donated them is not happy with us.
``They now prefer assisting Togo and other neighbouring countries because we cannot utilise what they donated to us; they say they cannot give us again.”