To enhance security in the territorial waters, the Senate on Wednesday tasked the federal government to fund the Nigerian Navy and to procure about one hundred and fifty vessels.
The Senate is concerned that shippers and vessel owners hired a minimum of three armed mercenaries for Security when coming to Gulf of Guinea (Nigeria) at a minimum of USD$7,500 per day prior to the establishment of the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA) of Lagos Ports
This followed consideration of a report of the Senate Joint Committee on Navy, Marine Transport and Finance on the investigation of the illegal activities by Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL) at the SAA of Lagos Ports.
Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator George Thompson Sekibo, said the heightening insecurity in the Nigerian waters in 2012, particularly at the Lagos Ports, led to the establishment of the SAA.
Sekibo said findings by the Joint Committee showed that with the subsequent establishment of the SAA, users were charged USD$2,500 the first day and USD$1,500 subsequently, an amount far less than what obtained previously.
According to him, the major issue that prompted the decision of the Nigerian Ports Authority to request the storage of the SAA was out of the need to promote ease of doing business and reduce costs incurred by vessel owners.
He said the establishment of the SAA had not contravened the provisions of any National or International Maritime laws ascribed or acceded to by Nigeria.
The report said the Nigerian Navy was in need of about one hundred and fifty (150) patrol boats to help in checkmating piracy and insecurity on the Nigerian sea and ports.
It added that two out of the three patrol boats given to the Nigerian Navy by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) through NIMASA in 2014 to enhance security presence in the port were dysfunctional.
The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said, “what I got from the media before this committee went into action was that somebody was given a job that ought to have been done by the Nigerian Navy and was ripping off the country. That’s all that I got.
“But I’m sitting down here, and I’m looking at it and I’m seeing that the Nigerian Navy that is supposed to do this job does not have the platform to do it.
“And so, if a private individual is providing something for the Nigeria Navy, for which he has to charge a fee, then some people stand to say he must be taking too much,” Abaribe said.
Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, said stakeholders such as the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA, while appearing before the Joint Committee, were indicted over their inability to independently secure the country’s waterways.
“All agencies and stakeholders that have anything to do with this were indicted, and testimonies were received from all of these agencies.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan in his remark said: “This is a matter for the National Assembly or government to deal with, because if our Navy is this incapacitated, it is a big issue for us.
“And it is unfortunate that we are discussing it in plenary that we have only one functional ship. As a giant of Africa, we should be talking of maybe hundreds of ships,” Lawan said.
“So, this is a challenge to us, the National Assembly particularly. We have to do something for the Navy,” h added.
Meanwhile, the Senate has approved the sum of N140,383,591,000 for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the 2020 fiscal year.
The approval came following consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Communications during plenary.
Chairman of the Communications Committee, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, while giving a breakdown of the Commission’s total expenditure for the year 2020, said that N39,297,044,000 was for recurrent expenditure and N20,863,699,000 for special projects.
The lawmaker added that out of the total budget for the Commission, the sum of N8,129,462,000 was for capital expenditure, N64,208,446,000 for Transfer to Federal Government, and N7,500,000,000 as Transfer to the Universal Service Provision Fund