Abuja – Barely a month after the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, threatened to expose those frustrating the implementation of $195 million maritime security contract awarded to a firm said to be of Israeli origin, federal legislators recently moved to quash the controversial contract.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, after concluding its investigative hearing on the contract, has in its report recommended an outright cancellation of the contract as it would lead to a capital flight of over $200 million.
The report, which was laid before the House last week, also demanded that Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, should stop funding the contract immediately as it was not appropriated for.
A reliable source privy to this development told newsmen that the beneficiary offshore company, HLSI Security, that was claimed to be an Israeli firm, is after all not an Israeli firm as it was registered in Seychelles and has its headquarters in Cyprus.
The source explained that the agent of the company in Nigerian does not have any traceable record with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). We had written to CAC and for more than three weeks no response till date, meaning that the company is faceless. “
The lawmakers recommended that Messrs Shoreface consortium proposal, widely consulted and studied by Executive and National Assembly should be encouraged as it puts no financial stress nor security threats on Nigeria.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi; Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, and top Navy echelon had appeared before the committee on January 30.
After the hearing, the committee gave the minister a 72-hour ultimatum to supply all the documents concerning the contract.
Until the report was laid last week, no document was submitted for further investigation.
Expressing concern over the documents, Chairman of Committee on Public Petitions, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, had stated during the last hearing: “We have been demanding these documents and we have received no responses. This is about the 8th hearing on this issue.
“If the contractual documents and agreements cannot be produced within the next 72 hours, we will be forced to close this matter and make our recommendations to the House.”
Another member of the committee from Lagos State, Rotimi Agunsoye, expressed displeasure over the situation, saying that the House was being taken for granted.
“There is no point giving the stakeholders extra 72 hours since tax payers’ money is involved. We should just close the matter.”
He argued that giving the stakeholders another 72 hours was a waste of parliamentary time.
However, Nkem-Abonta intervened, urging his colleagues to give Amaechi one last chance with the 72-hour grace.
Ten civil society organisations had petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives over the alleged $195m security contract awarded to an Israeli firm to patrol Nigerian waters by the Ameachi-led Ministry of Transportation, as well as the Ministry of Defence.
Culled from Business & Maritime West Africa