The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) said it has ample evidence to support its claim that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was sponsoring the hate campaign against its Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari in documentaries aired on the networks of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Africa Independent Television (AIT).
NIMASA Director General, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi had on Sunday condemned what it called “the ongoing smear campaign” being carried out by the APCPCO against the agency “in trying to score political points against President Goodluck Jonathan”.
Akpobolokemi asked the APC and its campaign organisation to withdraw their accusations that NIMASA had engaged in the sponsorship of hate campaign against the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, failing which it would resort to legal action.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Sunday, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi said: “The vicious campaign is intended to cast aspersions on the activities and integrity of NIMASA as a responsible corporate entity of government. We should leave politics to the politicians and let the professionals do their job.”
Akpobolokemi also debunked the allegation that NIMASA contracted the country’s maritime security to a private firm owned by Tompolo, or any private company as insinuated by APC. He maintained that no such contract existed.
He said he was taken aback by recent media reports which tried “to disparage the agency on the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP)”.
He said under the programme, over 2,500 young Nigerians have benefitted or are currently enjoying various levels of scholarship in reputable institutions in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and Philippines.
He said the NSDP beneficiaries were studying to become marine engineers, naval architects and nautical scientists.
“This has gone on successfully devoid of any discrimination. For the avoidance of doubts, no student of the NSDP programme has been sent out of school for fees and none will be sent out, because all fees have been paid by NIMASA till date,” Akpobolokemi said.
He appealed that maritime administration be left to the professionals at NIMASA while politics should remain within the terrain of the politicians.
But in a swift reaction, APCPCO dismissed the threat of litigation against it by NIMASA.
“There are several acts of the management that are at variance with the objectives and scope of activities of the agency as spelled out under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007. NIMASA Act does not envisage the involvement of the agency in political campaign.
“It certainly has no provision for hate campaigns against Buhari, nor does it allow for the funding of the activities of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN).
“NIMASA is trying to reduce this to a campaign issue, but the truth is that the conversion of a statutory government agency into one actively promoting partisan political actions of the President is of national significance.
“It assumes a more serious dimension when staff are denied their dues and money shipped out to fund illegal activities,” said APCPCO Director of Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Shehu said APC would present credible witnesses in court to prove not only this, but the fact that the maritime agency has since transformed into a campaign outpost for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
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