Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract being operated by Ocean Marine Security Limited (OMSL) with the Nigerian Navy in Lagos is “laced with fraud”.
Speaking on a television programme monitored in Lagos on Saturday, Amaechi also said that the Chairman of OMSL, Hosa Okunbo, did not have the approval of the Federal Government to operate the so-called secure anchorage area.
“What security was he providing? He charges each vessel on the waters $2,500, then after that $1,500 everyday. He doesn’t pay back that money to the Federal Government.
“He makes $17million from that activity. Who approved it? Nobody! So as Minister for Transport, I said no, we can provide that security. $195 million was approved by the Federal Government to a company that is training Nigerians that will take over the waterways, and take care of the security, then Okunbo is now saying no no, I must do it, he can’t. I wonder why our personal interest will override national interest. I wonder what kind of country we belong to,” Amaechi said.
The Minister challenged the OMSL chairman to come forward with the approval letter he got from the Federal Government to provide maritime security on the nation’s waterways.
“If you said Captain Hosa was doing it, how come we are currently ranked number one in the world in terms of insecurity in the maritime sector. When we came, we were number three, but now we are number one in the world.
“Now the second aspect beyond ranking number one in the world in insecurity is the fact that we are notorious as a country in the whole of Gulf of Guinea; 80 per cent of the crimes in the Gulf of Guinea is committed in Nigerian waters,” Amaechi said.
On the controversy generated over a $500 million loan collected by Nigeria to finance the construction of railway in the country, Amaechi said the loan is already running even as the country has already started repaying China.
He said out of the $500 million loan the federal government took to build the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, $96 million has been paid, adding that Nigeria has capability to pay all the China loans.
“We are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that the $500 million loan, we have paid $96 million already. Nigeria is already paying and the $500 million was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there,” he said.
On allegations by national lawmakers that Nigeria signed off its sovereignty to acquire the loan, Amechi said, “Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge, just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down. That is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso Rock and become President or Minister,” he said.
Amaechi said it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the National Assembly, but for the issue of confidentiality in government he would have published the clauses generating the dusts.
“The National Assembly are aware of all these loans. We can’t take loan without the National Assembly. So, ask why they are investigating?
“The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets,” he said.