Our attention has been drawn to a story making the rounds in the Sun newspaper and other online media alleging the involvement of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in an alleged bribery scandal concerning a sum of US$429 million maritime security contract with a certain Israeli firm. There is no truth in the publication whatsoever.
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. The report said the investigation relates to the acquisition of 3 number Shaldag fast patrol boats by Nigerian Navy in the years 2010 to 2013. The said report claimed three Israeli Shipyard officials were being questioned over the 2010-2013 transactions. 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, specially 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 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 the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA).
It may also be recalled that efforts by the Agency to ensure a robust and safe maritime domain has received wide commendation from industry players which includes the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Ship owners Association of Nigeria. They have also pledged their continuous support to all forms of developmental initiatives geared towards ensuring a virile maritime domain in Nigeria.