House of Representatives
  • Navy arrests 19 vessels, militants attack, disarm policemen in Ondo

Chiemelie Ezeobi

The House of Representatives saturday flayed the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for awarding the contract of patrolling the nation’s maritime domain to an Israeli firm to the tune of $195 million.

According to the Reps, the contract was not just a security breach but also defies the local content law, which promulgates patronising made in Nigeria goods and services.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Nigerian Navy, Abdussamad Dasuki, representing Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency, Sokoto, disclosed this during an on-the-spot assessment of the units and bases under the Western Naval Command in Lagos.
Alongside his committee members, he also toured the establishments under the Naval Training Command led by the Flag Officer Commanding, Rear Admiral Obi Ofodile.

THISDAY gathered that the controversial contract of securing Nigerian coastal waterways was awarded to an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Firms and Technology. Already, the contract has raised eyebrows with several civil society organisations calling it an aberration to the sovereignty of national security.

Concurring, the house of reps committee on Navy said ceding the patrol of waterways and other critical national assets to such foreign companies is to the detriment of the navy, whose constitutional role it is to safeguard and patrol the coastal waters and the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

According to Dasuki, the maritime trust fund falls under maritime security and anti piracy, thus the move to circumvent the navy out of its constitutional roles will not be allowed to happen.

He said, “One of the challenges we are having at the house of reps, has to do with the sister agency of the government, which is NIMASA. A situation whereby it is giving out jobs that are ideal for the Nigerian Navy and contractors in Nigeria to foreigners, especially jobs that have to do with our security, is not acceptable.

“We as a committee are very much against it. We have the Nigerian Navy and it should be empowered. We should promote what we do locally so I see no reason why we cannot contract the over $180 million job to them.
“It is not acceptable and we have made it loud and clear. We will continue to work until something is done about that particular situation”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Flag Officer Commanding, WNC, Rear Admiral Slyvanus Abbah, said the command made 19 arrests of vessels involved in different maritime criminalities in Lagos waters.

The vessels were arrested for illegalities ranging from piracy, crude oil theft, illegal and unregulated fishing, sea robbery amongst others. The vessels include MT Wollorf, MT Vine, MT Glenstar, MT Sisi Comfort, MT DA Chris, MT Dove 1, Lurongyuanyu 215, Lurongyuanyu 216, Lurongyuanyu 217, Lurongyuanyu 218, MT Matrix 1, Hai Long, Marion, Arc Charley, MT Thyword, MT Queen of Peace, MT United Venture, MT United Trador and MV Miracle.

He said, “Since June 2017, the patrol efforts of the command at sea, complemented by the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) assets led to the arrests of some vessels found carrying out illegal activities at sea.

“It is pertinent to state that most of these vessels have been handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of persons and vessels in Nigeria’s maritime domain. However, the command still keeps watch onboard arrested vessels in its custody, as well as those handed over to other relevant prosecuting agencies.”
In another development, the FOC said the naval personnel deployed to Igbokoda in Ondo State, yesterday responded to a distress call that some militants had attacked and disarmed some policemen.

He said, “Our men at Igbokoda raced to a village called Aiyetoro after they got a signal that some hoodlums had attacked and disarmed some mobile policemen stationed there. Our men gave chase and disarmed them. They were able to recover two of the three arms from the militants. We are on top of the situation.”