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Abandoned Nigeria’s $103.4 million gunboat sinks

By Adaku Onyenucheya
05 April 2022   |   2:40 am
One of the patrol gunboats in the fleet of Global West Vessels Specialists (GWVS), NIMASA/Barugu, which was acquired 10 years ago, sank on Sunday at the Kirikiri Terminal, Apapa, Lagos.

[FILES] Traders about to board a boat a Jetty

One of the patrol gunboats in the fleet of Global West Vessels Specialists (GWVS), NIMASA/Barugu, which was acquired 10 years ago, sank on Sunday at the Kirikiri Terminal, Apapa, Lagos.

The vital maritime asset was procured for $103.4 million or N43 billion (using the current official exchange rate) and delivered in January 2012. It was seized among the other 24 boats as parts of assets of Government Ekpemupolo (popularly known as Tompolo) during the investigation of the renounced militant by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The boat was reportedly still under EFCC custody until the latest incident.

In a video recording of the unfortunate incident, seafarers onboard the adjoining maritime security vessels blamed NIMASA for negligence, saying they had reported the impending disaster to NIMASA in January.

Recall that NIMASA and Global West had a maritime security contract in 2013 to supply patrol boats for policing the entire stretch of Nigeria’s coastline, from Calabar to Lagos.

A memorandum titled, award of contract for the strategic concessions partnership with NIMASA to provide a platform for tracking ships and cargoes, enforce regulatory compliance and surveillance of the entire Nigerian maritime domain was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) by the Federal Ministry of Transport in January 2012.

However, the deal was later trailed by litigation from the Federal Government, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seizing 25 boats bought for patrols of the country’s waterways by the company. “

Though the court has acquitted the company, all their assets, including the boats, are still under the custody of EFCC.

In a swift reaction, Assistant Director, Public Relations, Mr. Osagie Edward, said that although the boat is christened NIMASA Barugu, it had been a subject of litigation while its crew did not report to NIMASA.

He said: “While this is an unfortunate development, it is important to bring to the attention of all that this vessel under reference here is one of Global West boats that were in service with the Agency years ago.

This boat has the name NIMASA-Barugu right from the days of the contract. There are also other boats in this contractual category in Warri.

“Collectively, the boats and their management have remained a subject of litigation and under the custody of the EFCC for years.”

Meanwhile, the maritime agency claimed that it has made concerted efforts to reactivate a few of the serviceable boats in this fleet but was restrained by legal encumbrance.

“As a law-abiding entity, we approached the matter under sound legal advisory. It must be stated that this vessel was not in our jetty and under our management at the time of the incident. The crew onboard do not report to NIMASA but to Global West management, its owners,” Osagie said.