Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has urged the National Assembly to probe the award of a $195 million Coastal Waterways Security contract awarded by the Federal Ministry of Transportation under Rotimi Amaechi.
The CSOs led by Solomon Adodo, Convener, Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative (EUYI) made the call on Wednesday during a press briefing in Abuja.
Adodo, who addressed the press on the issue, regretted that the contract awarded to an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems, had been restored in spite of its purported cancelation by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He, however, failed to tell the date that FEC supposedly cancelled the contract.
“Following our petition, the House Committee on Public Petitions invited all concerned Parties to seven sessions of public hearings which spanned a period of two months.
“Minister of Transport, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Chief of the Naval Staff, Ministry of Defence and Civil Society Groups were invited to the public hearings.
“The records bear it clear that at the end of the exhaustive Public Hearing, the House Ruled on the matter and the Federal Executive Council had to cancel the said contract.
“The cancellation of the said contract was as a result of obvious flaws and in the overall national interest. To our consternation and dismay however, our findings indicate that the contract was allegedly smuggled into the 2018 and 2019 National Budget.
“The desperation to go ahead with this contract despite its grave implications of economic sabotage and national security compromise raises very strong questions,” Adodo said.
According to Adodo, the CSOs in their petition to the NASS raised concern over the security implication of the contract which ceded the control of our waterways to a foreign firm.
He emphasised that all over the world no nation leaves affairs of National Security totally in the command and control of a private firm and that Nigeria should therefore not be an exception.
“This clandestine contract contravenes the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, Chapter 1V, Part III, Section 217, sub section 1&2.
“It states that there shall be Armed Forces for the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.
“The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the Armed Forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of –(a) defending Nigeria on land, sea, or air; (c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and (d) performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”
“It also negates the provision of Part 1, section 4 and particularly sub section A of the Armed Forces Act which provides thus: ’the Navy shall, in particular, be further charged with- Enforcing and assisting in coordinating the enforcement of all customs, laws, including anti-bunkering fishery and immigration laws of Nigeria at sea; Enforcing and assisting in coordinating the enforcement of national and international maritime laws ascribed or acceded to by Nigeria; Making of charts and coordinating of all national hydrographic surveys; and Promoting, coordinating and enforcing safety regulations in the territorial water and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria.”
The CSOs therefore urged the NASS to restrain the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, from going ahead with the contract so as not to jeopardise or expose our nation to further security and economic dangers.