The $195 million Deep Blue Contract has attracted a management fee of 10 percent totalling $19.5 million, Bashir Jamoh, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said.
Jamoh said this on Wednesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Navy, currently investigating the legitimacy of the contract awarded to HLS International.
The House of Representatives had in December last year mandated the Committee on Navy to investigate the contract which was awarded by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in 2017 to a non-Nigerian private company, HLS International Limited, for the supply of certain security and surveillance equipment and systems.
Since the commencement of the probe last week, Armed Forces, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Office of Accountant General of the Federation dissociated themselves from the contract, saying it was under NIMASA.
The contract is for the supply of certain security and surveillance equipment and systems to secure Nigeria’s territorial waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
When the NIMASA boss appeared, he owned up to the contract and told lawmakers that the entire agreement fee had been fully paid.
According to him, “there were other things or related costs that may not be included here from the time we collected this asset to date. You need to manage the assets, you need to buy bunkers.
“You need to do other things including those who are managing the platforms. So, I am presenting the amount approved by the Federal Executive Council as the cost of these platforms: $195m plus $19.5 ten percent of management cost.
Jamoh said Deep Blue contract was conceived, processed by the Ministry of Transportation and presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval while NIMASA was to pay its cost.
The Director-General refuted claims that NIMASA handed over its platforms from projects to the Nigerian Armed Forces, saying they were still owned by the agency.
He listed the components of the contract to include 17 bar interceptors, two special mission vessels for the sea operation; two special mission aircraft; three special mission helicopters, four unmanned air drones for the air operation and 16 armoured vehicles.
“Let me correct one impression. NIMASA did not give any armed forces assets. Those assets remain the assets of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency. We have no powers to dash what we procured with our own money unless it’s been instructed otherwise by Mr President, the presidency or the federal ministry of transportation.
“What we did was that we have teamwork, NIMASA owned platform as interventionary to assist in maintaining peace and security in our own waterways based on the mandate given by the NIMASA act, based on the mandate of the International Maritime Organization. The organization doesn’t recognize uniforms, men and women in terms of Marshall shipping.
“So, whenever there are attacks on commercial shipping, the NIMASA is an agency that the international Maritime organization looks for. The federal ministry of transportation, considering the role of NIMASA, decided to give a helping hand in addition to the platforms of other agencies having to buy platforms for the utilization,” Jamoh added.
However, Yusuf Gagdi, chairman of the committee questioned the procurement of military equipment and custodial powers of the agency.
“We don’t have coast guards. Why are you procuring military equipment and keeping them in your custody preempting that you would have coast guards to hand over to them,” he asked.
“Do you think it is safe for this country to keep those military equipment in your custody with the sole aim of establishing an agency, predetermined that the Mr President would approve the establishment of the coast guard. What would be the consequent effects of keeping those equipment in your custody?” he queried.