A group, which called itself the Concerned Staff of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA), has sent a petition to the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) requesting for the closure of the agency’s London office created by its former Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
This is the second petiton the group is sending to the Ministry in six months. SHIPS & PORTS DAILY reported exclusively on April 15 that the same group sent a petition to the FMOT accusing Akpobolokemi of ‘absurd personnel management practice’, which prompted the setting up of a committee to review employment carried out during the tenure of the embattled former Director-General.
In the latest petition titled, ‘NIMASA operates an illegal London Office’, the concerned staff said, “The impunity of Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi knew no bounds.
“Our investigations have revealed that about three years ago, barely one year after he assumed office, Mr Akpobolokemi single handedly created an illegal NIMASA office in London against all known diplomatic and administrative processes and procedures.
“That office is headed by one Ms Enemuo Amaechi, a staff in the Legal Section of NIMASA and more importantly, a lackey of Mr Akpobolokemi from the same Niger Delta.
“At the time, Mr Akpobolokemi had boasted that nobody, not even Senator Idris Umar, Minister of Transport nor Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, the Nigerian High Commissioner in London, could stop him from achieving his aim of establishing the said office in London.
“Mr Akpobolokemi’s uncultured behaviour and outright rudeness and indeed insult to the Nigerian High Commissioner on account of the High Commissioner’s reasoned advice against the creation of such an illegal office in London and the consequent drain such an enterprise would put on national resources.
“The High Commissioner subsequently wrote a letter of complaint to Senator Pius Anyim, the then Secretary to the Federal Government. In the letter, the High Commissioner complained bitterly about Akpobolokemi’s illegal adventure and highlighted the diplomatic implications such an action could have on relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.”
The petitioners claimed that the NIMASA London office was initially situated at a rented property within the office complex of Portland Place in the Victoria Area of Central London before it was relocated to one of NIMASA’s abandoned properties at 7-14 Great Dover Street near Elephant and Castle in South East London.
“Our investigation further revealed that the property used to be occupied by a rent paying firm of engineers who had long vacated the property about four years ago. The property is basically empty at the moment and at the verge of being repossessed for non-payment of appropriate tax and non-compliance with relevant policies of the UK authorities.
“Ms Amaechi, the head of NIMASA’s illegal office in London presently occupies part of a floor in the building.
“It should be noted that the creation of such an office was not only unnecessary but wasteful. There is no specific job description for the office as Nigeria’s High Commission in London performs all diplomatic and administrative duties on behalf of Nigeria.
“In addition, Nigeria has a Permanent Representative Office to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is domiciled at the Nigeria High Commission. His Excellency Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, CON, is the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to IMO while the Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO is Captain Ibraheem Olugbade, himself a Deputy Director in NIMASA.
“Traditionally, the Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO had always doubled as NIMASA’s representative in London.
“It is not clear how many staff are currently in the London office of NIMASA but there were plans last year to post about 8 staff from NIMASA to the London office, all from Niger Delta.
The aggrieved staff claimed that the NIMASA London office “has absolutely no role except to serve the DG-NIMASA and his family whenever they visit London”.