President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to discontinue payment to Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL) for the provision of platforms for security of the nation’s waterways, an authoritative source at the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) has disclosed exclusively to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
GWVSNL is reportedly owned by a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpomupolo, also known as ‘Tompolo’.
The source who does not want his identity disclosed because he was not authorised to officially speak on the matter, said the payment had been stopped since June.
He said the Permanent Secretary of the FMOT, Mohammed Bashir has directed the Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi not to make any more payments for the controversial maritime security contract until further notice.
The contentious maritime security contract was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan and awarded by NIMASA in 2011, shortly after Akpobolokemi was appointed to head the agency.
Akpobolokemi’s appointment was believed to have been influenced by Tompolo who is a close ally of the former President.
Many operators and stakeholders had questioned the wisdom in concessioning the nation’s maritime security to a private company, especially one linked to a former militant.
Shedding more light on why payment for the contract was suspended, the source said: “It is difficult to believe that the former President would hand out the security of the nation’s entire maritime domain to his kinsman under the guise of public-private-partnership (PPP).
“It was certain that such a contract would not stand the test of time. It was a matter of time and like the pipeline security contracts awarded by the same regime, its time is over.”
He said government would rather channel the money paid to GWVSNL to strengthening the Navy and Marine Police to secure the nation’s waterways.
In June, pioneer Chairman of the Board of NIMASA, Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan said Tompolo’s company was paid N1.5billion monthly by NIMASA to execute the contract.
He however lamented that despite the huge payment, the country still lost over 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil theft.
The former NIMASA Chairman called on President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel the contract.
He said, “Over 400, 000 barrels of crude oil are being stolen daily from our shores under President Jonathan yet we had a government that has the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the government of Jonathan decides to hand over the security of our maritime waters to Tompolo at a very exorbitant amount of money.
“And these same people that are given the job of our maritime security are the ones that are collaborating with the international shipping companies to steal our oil.”
According to him, one of the ways to help the country’s economy bounce back is to revoke Tompolo’s contract.
“And if Buhari does not do so, we will be the first to start attacking him. There is no basis to give that kind of billion naira job to ex-militants,” he declared.
Tompolo was in the eye of the storm in December 2014 when he reportedly acquired seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships.
NIMASA spokesman, Isichei Osamgbi did not respond to enquiries sent to him on the matter.
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