James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives thursday passed a motion mandating its Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration to investigate alleged fictitious contract awards and gross mismanagement of billions of naira by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, Hon. Gabriel Onyenwife, Hon. Ibrahim Baba and Hon. Chris Agibe on the need to get to the root of the matter.
The lawmakers had expressed concern over the current administrationâ€™s anti-corruption posturing and recent developments in NIMASA as it relates to the award of questionable contracts, fraudulent forex transactions and other unwholesome and corrupt practices.
They alleged that there had been several allegations of questionable, inflated and fictitious contracts awarded by the agency, particularly for non- operational speed boats, security surveillance known as â€˜Deep Blue Water Contractâ€™, revenue leakages and the award of contracts to cronies of the Director-General and other top management staff of the agency, and suspicious forex transactions.
Specifically, Kwewum said there are accusations of under remittances of debts owed the country by Shipping firms, with the consent and connivance of NIMASA.
He said the agency is alleged to have entered into a very dubious contract with a firm called â€˜XPO Marine Limitedâ€™ for the lease of six speed boats, each at the rate of $173,930.00 monthly, without a â€œNeed Assessmentâ€ for such facility being carried out by the relevant departments of the agency.
According to him: â€œThe said XPO Marine Limited had earlier been indicted for defrauding the Agency to the tune of $80,000 in revenue; Further aware that the security surveillance contract called â€˜Deep Blue Water Contractâ€™ is suspected to be a conduit by the management of the agency to pilfer funds; a security contract tagged â€˜National Integrated Surveillance and Waterways Protectionâ€™ was awarded to an Israeli firm, HSLI Systems and Technologies Limited at the cost of $195,300,000, despite an existing facility, which is a simple internet subscription via Lloyds Intelligence Platform for such operations.
Similarly, the House, also mandated its Committees on Ports, Harbours and Waterways and, Public Procurement to investigate alleged award of contract for the dredging of Warri Seaport and Escravos Channel by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
The resolution was consequent upon a motion moved by Hon. Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) on the need to unravel the allegations.
He noted that given the strategic and economic importance of water transport and maritime trade to Nigeriaâ€™s economy, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the sum of N 10 billion for the dredging of Warri Seaport and Escravos Channel.
While commending the federal government efforts to invest in the dredging of Warri Seaport and the Escravos Channels, he expressed believe that if the projects are successfully implemented as planned, it will revive and reenergise economic activities of the Niger Delta Region and the entire South-South geopolitical zone.
The lawmaker, however, expressed concern that the NPA took advantage of the FEC approval to award a contract worth N 10 billion for the dredging of the Warri Seaport and Escravos Channel without any prior budgetary provision or appropriation.
He said it was particularly worrisome that the contract was awarded to a company whose reputation and professional competence is smeared internationally, having suffered several criminal indictments and convictions in many countries adding that there are attempts by some faceless persons to blackmail individuals and organisation raising alarm over the alleged illegality in the award of the contract.