Senate Probes Alleged N263bn Fraud Involving Security Agencies in Lagos Ports

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The Senate in session

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate thursday resolved to carry out a thorough investigation on alleged infractions among security outfits at the Lagos ports through which they allegedly made N263 billion without due course to the nation’s established statute.

This was coming as the upper chamber also yesterday asked the Federal Fire Service to install fire-fighting equipment in major markets across the country.

The Senate at plenary, therefore, mandated its committees on Navy, Marine Transport and Finance to investigate the activities of Messrs OMSL Limited and other security agencies at the Safe Anchorage Area in the Lagos ports who have made over N263 billion illegally since 2014.

It also mandated the committees to unravel the lingering infractions among the agencies and deeper issues that have not yet been brought to fore.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator George Sekibo.

The senator in his motion titled: “Illegal Security Activities by Messrs OMSL Limited at the Safe Anchorage Area of Lagos Ports and the Need to Investigate their Excesses,” submitted that a security company registered in the name of OMSL Limited, has since 2014, carried out provision of security of the Lagos Ports Safe Anchorage Area on fees from vessels without regard to the Nigerian Ports Authority who by the Ports Act of 1954 has the responsibility of the area.

According to him, “OMSL Limited charged every ship that anchored within the Safe Area $2,500 on first day of Anchorage and $1,500 on every subsequent day for the period any ship stayed at the Anchorage Area.

“It takes between 28 to 30 days for ships that anchor at the Safe Anchorage Area to exit, meaning that every ship that anchors at Safe Area pays as much as $46,500 for making use of the Anchorage Area within the period.

“With estimated number of ships that stayed at the Safe Anchorage Area in a year to be 3,665, a whooping sum of $733.04 million or N263.89 billion had been collected by OMSL Limited and its collaborators over the years,” he further said.

Sekibo added that OMSL Limited has openly declared that the Nigerian Navy had a Memorandum of Understanding with it on the illegal operation.

“OMSL Limited in connivance with other security agencies are collecting a whooping sum of $133.28 million or N47.98 billion every year since 2014, meaning that over $733.04 or N263.89 billion had been collected by OMSL Limited and its collaborators,” he alleged.

The Senator explained that by virtue of the Ports Act (1954), the Anchorage Area is an integral part of NPA statutory responsibility, while the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Marine Police and Nigerian Navy have the responsibility of ensuring safe and secured Nigerian territorial waters.

Most Senators who contributed to debate on the motion like Bassey Akpan, Mathew Urhoghide, Uche Ekwunife, supported the motion and the prayers it sought for.

Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the adoption of the prayers, mandated the committees to be led by the committee on Navy to carry out thorough investigation on the alleged illegal activities at the ports and report back to plenary in four weeks.

Also yesterday, the Senate expressed concern over the recurring incidents of fire outbreaks in major markets across the country.

It has therefore asked the federal government to mandate the Federal Fire Service to install fire-fighting equipment in all major markets across the country.

This was sequel to a motion moved by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah and two other senators from Anambra State, Messrs Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah, on the fuel tanker fire incident which occurred in Onitsha on October 16.

The Senate observed a minute-silence in memory of all those who died in the inferno and resolved to send a delegation to visit and commiserate with the victims and the people of Anambra State.

It also urged the Anambra State Government to unravel why the state Fire Service could not speedily respond to the emergency with a view to curtailing such incident in future.

While commending the federal government for the promise to assist the victims and the affected traders with relief materials and to work with the Anambra State Government to forestall future fire incidences, the federal legislators, however, asked the federal government to include financial support in the package to the affected persons to enable them restart their businesses, pledging a quick passage of the Petroleum Tankers Safety Bill.

It urged the Nigerian Police Force to work in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to carry out a thorough investigation of the circumstances that led to the accident with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable in the preventable fire incident.

Moving his motion earlier, Ubah had noted with sadness, the unfortunate petrol tanker inferno at Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Anambra State.