The House of Representatives Committee on Navy currently investigating the legality of $195,300,000 Deep Blue contract which the federal government entered into with a foreign private company, HLS International Limited, for the supply of certain security and surveillance equipment and systems, yesterday queried the Nigerian Maritime Administration Agency (NIMASA) over the purchase of arms for a security outfit, yet to be established in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi reacting to the submission made by the Director-General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, questioned the procurement of the military equipment and custodial powers of the agency.
“We don’t have coast guard, why are you procuring military equipment and keeping them in your custody preempting that you would have coast guard to hand over to them? Do you think it is safe for this country to keep military equipment in your custody with the sole aim of establishing an agency, predetermining that Mr President would approve the establishment of the coast guard? What would be consequent effects of keeping the equipment in your custody?, Gagdi asked
In his presentation, Jamoh, revealed that the contract attracted a management fee of 10 per cent placed at $19.5 million.
He claimed that the total sum of $195 million as approved by the executive fell short of logistical expenditure.
He added: “Let me start by addressing the cost of the contract. The cost of the contract was $195 million and 10 per cent management fee of about $19.5 million. I want to make it categorically clear, the amount represents the cost of this platforms.
“There are other things or related costs that may not be included here from the time we collected this asset to date. You need to manage the assets; you need buy bunkers. You need do other things including those who are managing the platforms.”
Responding to a question on how the project was conceptualised, Jamoh said the entire contract agreement was conceived, processed by the Ministry of Transportation and has been fully paid.
“Deep Blue was conceived. It was processed by the Ministry of Transportation and presented to the FEC with two prayers. One was to approve the execution of the contract and two for NIMASA to pay the cost of the contract and that was what was approved and conveyed such approval to NIMASA.
“As usual, we abide by the directive given to us. As of today we don’t have a cent unpaid. We paid the contract entire and the contractor completed the supply of all the platforms, except some the platforms still remain at Onne Port, because we were unable to pay the contractors that are clearing these items, their dues.
“We just received approval one and half months ago from the FEC to settle the contractor and get the remaining items. The contractor has given me his words that within the next two weeks we would get the remaining items cleared,” he added.
He refuted claims that NIMASA handed over its platforms for the armed forces of Nigeria, saying that the platforms were still owned by the agency.