The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has taken over more than 20 of its vessels in the custody of Global West Vessel Services, Daily Trust investigations has revealed.
Global West Vessel Service, which handles maritime security issues for NIMASA has Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, as one of its major shareholders. The company purchased the ships as part of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement it has with NIMASA during the regime of former president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Tompolo was declared wanted by the EFCC over alleged contract scandals he sealed with former government. NIMASA confirmed taking over the vessels when contacted by our reporter but denied revoking the entire contracts with Global West.
NIMASA’s Deputy Director, Public Relations, Hajia Lamin Tumaka, told Daily Trust that it was the management of Global West Vessels that withdrew its services because the agency had not been able to meet up with payments.
Daily Trust investigations revealed that the move to take over the vessels began soon after the exit from office of the agency immediate past Director General (DG), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Akpobolokemi is presently standing trial for allegedly diverting funds running into billions of naira belonging to NIMASA.
It was gathered that NIMASA under the leadership of the former acting DG, Haruna Baba Jauro, directed that the vessels in the inventory of Global West be taken over by management of the agency and kept in safe custody.
Though, it could not be confirmed if the contract between the agency and Global West Vessel Services had been terminated, a source told our correspondent that it was to allow for effective security of the country’s waterways.
The source said since is Tompolo currently being investigated by EFCC it became necessary for the agency to take over its ships in the custody of Global West.
“These ships are mounted with guns and those in charge are being investigated. The management thought it wise to take over the ships so that they will not be used to cause any breach of security in the Niger Delta region.
“The ships were purchased by Global West under a Purchase Operate and Transfer agreement it had with NIMASA. Those who man the vessels are naval personnel who are authorized by the constitution to police the waterways. Because there are GPMG rifles mounted on all the vessels, we don’t want a situation where it will be used against the Nigerian state” the source said.
She said the agency is presently waiting on the federal government, through the Ministry of Transport for further directives.
Speaking on whether the agency had stopped its contract with Global West Vessel, Hajia Tumaka said they had no directive to that effect.
It would be recalled that Global West procured some decommissioned naval battleships and combat boats from the Norwagian Navy in 2012.
The purchase was followed by a public outcry as a result of which the Norwegian Defence Chief, Haakon Bruun-Hansen, apologised to Nigerian lawmakers for the sale.
Tompolo, through Global West in 2012 received at least six decommissioned Norwegian battleships. Among them were six fast-speed Hauk-class guided missile boats, now re-armed with new weapons.
The most recent hardware was the KNM Horten, a fast-attack craft allegedly used for anti-piracy patrol in the Nigerian waters.
It was reported that the sale was implemented through a shell maritime security company based in the United Kingdom, CAS Global.