Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL), a company belonging to former Niger Delta militant, Mr. Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, has bought seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships.
Reports by a Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, said that the fast-speed Hauk-class guided missile boats had been re-armed with new weaponry.
The report also revealed that GWVSNL’s most recent purchase was a KNM Horten, a fast-attack craft now used in fighting piracy on Nigeria’s waterways.
Buying arms from Norway requires an export license from Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ships were reportedly sold first to CAS Global, a British security company that has such a license, after which GWVSNL reportedly bought the ships from the British company.
Dagblade reported that the seven Norwegian ships were now part of the company’s maritime fleet patrolling under a contract for the Federal Government.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) signed a 10-year contract with GWVSNL in 2011 to provide platforms, security boats, equipment and expertise to help in securing the nation’s waterways and thereby raise revenue. Under the contract, the staff of the company were not permitted to bear arms.
The company was also to provide the entire $103 million investment and would only get paid after surpassing NIMASA’s annual revenue collection profile.
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, while reacting to controversies surrounding the contract shortly after it was awarded said: “Under the MIMASA Act, it is empowered to take charge of administration and the safety of our waters.
“And under the same Act, NIMASA has been empowered to carry out its functions, duties and responsibilities under the Act either by itself or through any institution of the government or any agency of government or in partnership with any institution of government or in partnership with any agency of government or through or in partnership with any natural person or limited liability company like the Global West Limited which has now entered into partnership with NIMASA.
“The mandate of that company in the country and the functions under the terms of the contract is to provide platforms, equipment and expertise to ensure the safety of the waters.
“The staff of this company are not going to bear arms, let me emphasize. That is the responsibility of the Nigerian Navy. The company is not going to bear arms. It can only provide expertise. It is to provide platforms, it is to provide security boats, it is to provide equipment that are required to carry out surveillance of our territorial waters. So people should not make the mistake that government has concessioned the security of our waterways to private company.”
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.