The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has refuted a trending story in some media alleging the involvement of the organization and Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), in a bribery scandal over a $429 million maritime domain security contract with an Israeli company.
A statement issued by the Authority’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mr Isichei Osamgbi, pointed out that the publication was a fabrication of mischief makers.
He clarified: “Having read through the content of the publication, it is sad to note that some people will derive joy in playing politics with the issue of security in the Nigerian maritime domain at a time NIMASA, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation is working closely with security agencies in Nigeria to improve security in the Nigerian territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
“While acknowledging that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the acquisition of some maritime security assets on contractor financed basis in Favour of an Isreali firm; the content of the write up was laced with malicious falsehood.
“We view this as being merely a cheap attempt to tarnish the image of the Honorable Minister of Transportation Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and the Director General of NIMASA Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside.
“While the report claimed bogus figures such as $429 million dollars and $615 million as value of the contract for vessel purchase, we wish to state that there was nothing in that nature related to a contract in the approval granted by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the acquisition of maritime security infrastructure”, Osamgbi added.
NIMASA noted that the news report had stated that the investigation related to the acquisition of 3 number Shaldag fast patrol boats by Nigerian Navy in the years 2010 to 2013 and also claimed that three Israeli Shipyard officials were being questioned over the 2010-2013 transactions.
It also expressed its concern further by stating that “even when it is clear that neither the Honourable Minister, Rotimi Amaechi or Dr. Dakuku Peterside were occupying their present office in the years mentioned in the report, the authors still chose to be mischievous.
“The recently approved maritime security assets acquisition relates to Special mission aircrafts, Special mission helicopters and 12 fast intervention vessels to be acquired for enhanced coastal and aerial surveillance and patrol of the Nigerian maritime domain will be manned by Nigerian Navy and other NIGERIAN military officials.
“The terms of the contract also include human capacity development that will see the firm train NIMASA and retrain Nigerian security personnel with specification to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standard, especially on fighting crimes in the maritime domain of which we have peculiar challenges in the creeks and our larger coastal region. The value of this contract is known and it is $195m USD.
“It is noteworthy that the European Union convened a special meeting on the Gulf of Guinea which took place in Lagos, where they noted that their decision to host the meeting outside the EU for the first time and in Nigeria was to create awareness of the fact that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is real and deserves special global attention. The International Maritime Bureau and the international shipping community have also raised similar concerns about maritime crime in Nigerian waters”, the Authority stressed.
NIMASA clarified further: “The HLSi contract approved by Federal Executive Council is to acquire platforms to help fight piracy and it is projected to aid the reduction of piracy by over 50% in the Gulf of Guinea within the first year of the contract.
“While we cannot categorically confirm or deny the fact that some Israeli officials are under investigation for contract execution involving Nigerian institution in the year 2010, please be informed that nothing of such is linked to the current leadership of FMOT and NIMASA”, it added.