The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has debunked reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has terminated the federal government’s pipeline security deal with Global West Vessels Specialists Limited (GWVSL), a company said to belong to former Niger-Delta war-lord, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo).
Giving the high incidences of pipeline vandalisation in parts of the country, it could be recalled that the purported $103 million (N21 billion) maritime security contract was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan and awarded by NIMASA in 2011, shortly after the former Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, was appointed to head the agency.
But in a sharp clarification, the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Haruna Jauro, on Tuesday, during a courtesy visit to the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, at Naval Headquarters, Abuja, refuted reports reports that the maritime security deal was terminated, pointing that it did not in any way encroach on the constitutional duties of the Nigerian Navy to protect the nation’s maritime coast.
Jauro, while fielding questions from journalists, stated that the agreement between the NIMASA and Global West does not overlaps the statutory responsibilities of the Nigerian Navy.
He was emphatic that the contract with Global West was not an attempt by the agency to hijack the functions of the Navy.
He said: “It does not. Yes, it does not because the Navy is one of its kind and no one is willing to go there and take anything from them.
“What Global West is doing is just to help NIMASA to look a the issue of that takes place in the waters, to push them back and I think we have done our best with them. So far the level of piracy has reduced in the Lagos area.
“We don’t have much reports of them again and they have been pushed towards the Delta area and we have been following them. And I think Global West has been instrumental to that so far. It (the contract) is supposed to be for ten years. It has run for three years.”
The NIMASA DG further explained that the contract with Tompolo’s firm was designed for a 10-year period, disclosing however, that the deal had been running for three years, of the 10-year period covered by the contractual agreement.
According to Jauro, the firm which was mandated to provide platform to NIMASA to fight the scourge of piracy in the nation’s territorial waters, “have been able to reduce drastically, the scourge of piracy in the Lagos area.”
In a related development, Isichie Osangbi, Deputy Director of Public relations for NIMASA, has denied receiving any directive from the presidency to discontinue payment to Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL) for the provision of platforms for security of the nation’s waterways, which is owned by the ex-militant leader.
“NIMASA is a government agency and would always implement government policy or reform in the maritime sector and not to be seen doing the opposite. Also, as a government agency, NIMASA ought to be in the know if there was any such directive or change in policy, since the alleged directive, according to those peddling the rumour, was meant for the agency to put an end to all payments to Global West Vessel.
“I tell you with due sense of responsibility that there is no such directive. If there is, nothing would have stopped NIMASA from informing members of the public or issuing statement to that effect,” he said.
“We are aware of our core mandate and we will do everything to enforce the federal government law as it affects the maritime sector. No rumor or falsehood will distract us,” he said.