The House of Representatives on Thursday directed its Committees on Marine and Institutions and Public Procurement to commence immediately a probe into the $195 million security contract allegedly awarded to an Israeli outfit to provide security and surveillance on Nigeria’s waterways.
The probe of the contract awarded by the Ministry of Transportation was based on deliberations on a petition brought to the floor of the House under matters of public importance tagged ‘Urgent Need to Probe $195m Security Contract awarded by the Ministry of Transportation.’
The petition was brought by Hon Benjamin Kalu, who submitted that “the amount if converted to Naira is over N93 billion and there is urgent need to investigate the matter because the money used in paying the Israeli security company was borrowed and it will be due for repayment by June 2020.”
The committees are expected to commence investigations into the allegation and submit their report within the next three weeks.
Kalu alleged that out of the $95 million contract value, the NIMASA sourced $30 million without consulting the National Assembly for approval, thereby violating extant provisions of the nation’s Public Procurement Act 2007.
The lawmaker cited various sections of the Constitution about powers of National Assembly on public finance matters, noting that due process was not followed and that there’s need to probe the matter further.
He recalled that the eighth Assembly had carried out a similar probe on the alleged contract scam in 2018 but that its findings were not implemented
In his concluding remarks on the petition, Kalu maintained that “what is meant for Nigerians should be spent for Nigerians because the security of the Nigerian waterways can’t be placed in the hands of foreigners.
Commenting on the petition, Hon Obinna Chidoka moved a motion that an amendment should be made to reflect that Public Procurement and Marine committees should handle the matter and the motion was adopted by the House accordingly.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions had carried out a similar investigative hearing on the same contract based on a petition submitted by some Non-Governmental Organisations in 2017.
Specifically, ten NGOs in 2017 had, in a petition titled ‘Petition on the ceding of Nigerian coastal waterways to HLSI Security Firms and Technologies and commercialisation of the Nigerian Navy to Shorefac Consortium Ltd’, petitioned the Ministry of Transportation.
The group described the ceding of the nation’s waterways to a foreign entity without due process as an abberation to Nigeria’s sovereignty and a threat to national security
They stated inter alia: “Ceding our waterways and the critical national assets therein to foreign firms will definitely undermine the constitutional role of the Nigerian armed forces as prescribed by law and expose our nation to glaring security risks and ridicule among the comity of nations.”
The petitioners, therefore, appealed to the Speaker to investigate the $195 million contract, especially the procurement processes that led to making the foreign company the winner of the bid for the contract.