Maritime security: Why ex-militants got N16bn contract- FG

2012-03-20
NATIONAL MIRROR Newspaper

Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, yesterday explained the recent concessioning of some sections of the nation’s maritime security to Global West Vessel Specialist Agency, GWVSL, a private security firm allegedly owned by some militants in the Niger Delta and contracted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.

He also dismissed as false and irritating the allegation that the Federal Government had ceded out the security of the nation’s territorial waters to private sector.

Umar, who spoke in Abuja, also disclosed that the Federal Government had concluded plans to repeal the extant Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 1955, which forbids private sector from constructing railway lines.

Speaking on the concessioning, the minister said that contrary to the rumour making the rounds, “it is the Nigerian Navy that provides the required security in the handling of arms on the territorial water and not the private firm.

“NIMASA only went into partnership with GWVSL and the function they are performing is to provide the platform and expertise to maintain the safety of the waters.

“This company will not bear arms. That is the responsibility of the Nigerian Navy. So, people should not make the mistake that the government has ceded out the security of our waters to private sectors.”

Umar added that there was nothing illegal in what NIMASA did by engaging the services of GWVSL.

He said: “NIMASA is established by the law of the parliament, the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Act. Under that law, NIMASA is empowered to take charge of the administration and the safety of our waters and to carry out its functions and responsibilities either by itself or through an agency of government or in partnership with any institution of government or in partnership with any agency of government or in partnership with any natural or juristic person.

“These are the operative words: Natural person will mean you and I as a person while juristic person will mean a limited liability company like the GWVSL, which has now entered into partnership with NIMASA.

“NIMASA went into partnership with that company and the function they are performing is to provide platform and expertise to maintain the safety of the water.

“This company will not bear arms. That is the responsibility of the Nigerian Navy. It can only provide expertise. It will provide platform to provide security for the port and equipment. They are on surveillance.

“So, people should not make the mistake that government has ceded out the security of our waters to private sector. No, government has concessioned out the security of our waters to private sector. The private sector is to provide platform, equipment, expertise, because of the enormity of the capital required

“Like I said earlier, government cannot finance everything. We need to partner with private sector. We have to make it clear that we operate no cure no pay basis. Companies will only be entitled to their fees when they are able to reach in collection of fees to NIMASA, the fee the NIMASA is collecting over a period of time.

“People have been making a lot of insinuations that security of our waterways has been concessioned to militants. It is very irritating. It is absolutely wrong. This is the true position.”

On the plan to remove the Federal Government hold on the railway system, the minister said a bill had already been prepared for the Attorney-General of the Federation’s input, adding that the Justice Minister would soon send it to President Goodluck Jonathan for vetting before presenting it to the National Assembly as an executive bill.

He added that the Federal Government was willing to resuscitate the railway system to ease transportation system by first rehabilitating the existing railway lines and constructing modern ones.

He noted that the rehabilitation of the Lagos- Kano rail line would be completed before the end of the second quarter of the year.

An ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpumopolo, a.k.a. Tompolo, is alleged to be the chief promoter of GWVSL that benefittted from the N16bn contract.

 

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