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Senate in rowdy session over ceding of waterways security to Israeli firm

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and John Akubo, Abuja
04 December 2019   |   4:16 am
The award of a waterways security contract to an Israeli firm yesterday generated tension in the Senate.

The award of a waterways security contract to an Israeli firm yesterday generated tension in the Senate.

An investigative hearing on the matter suddenly became rowdy, as stakeholders disagreed.

The Thompson Sekibo-led Joint Senate Committee drew attention to the fact that an Israeli vessel, with full complement of security officers and weapons, was arriving to execute the contract.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, who confirmed the development, however informed the committee that the Israeli security vessel would be mainly manned by the Nigerian Navy.

“Are you aware that NIMASA has given a contract called Deep Blue Sea to an Israeli company, HLSI, to the tune of $195.3 million for promoting security of the riverine area? I have the contract number here. Are you aware?, Sekibo had asked the naval chief, who was represented by Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Tarioworio Dick.

He responded in the affirmative, stating: “I am aware that there is a contract like that and facilities are being provided. For me, the aspect I have seen is that they are providing some platforms for the Nigerian Navy which we are going to use.”

Also, a Nigerian firm, Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), which had been responsible for providing logistics to the Nigerian Navy in the security of the waterways, kicked against what it called an “attempt by the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to push it out of operations with the agency offering explanation for terminating works with the firm.

NPA’s Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, said:
“The authority is of the view that the continued operation of the facility by the private entity (OMSL) is an unnecessary fixation that seeks to add cost to vessels calling at the ports. To the extent that additional security is required for the anchorage, such should be provided by the agency with statutory responsibility of providing same at no charge to vessel owners.”

The organisation further submitted that the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) being operated by OMSL in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy had been “dismantled.”

Managing Director of OMSL, Ameen Ikioda, had told the panel that the NPA never had any discussion with his company but allegedly got to know of the termination in the media after much investment in the project.

“What is painful is that they derogate my image and my integrity. I do not do business because of money. I have served this country meritoriously with my integrity intact,” he stated.