A former Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Temisan Omatseye, has denied rigging or splitting contracts at the agency.
He said he did not award the contracts single-handedly, but referred them to the governing board for approval.
Omatseye said NIMASA did not know when the Procurement Act, which provides for a tenders board, came into effect, adding that he continued to rely on the governing board for approval of contracts above N5million.
The former NIMASA boss is undergoing trial before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court in Lagos on amended 27-count charges of contract scam.
He was accused of contract splitting involving about N1.5 billion, which violates Section 58(4) (d) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and Section 14(a) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During cross-examination by counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Godwin Obla (SAN), Omatseye said all contracts awarded under his tenure followed due process.
Some of the contracts were for office equipment such as generating sets, computers, printers, BlackBerry smartphones, among others.
Omatseye said between September 2009 and April 2010, there was no Tenders Board at NIMASA.
He said he was unaware of the need for a Tenders Board because the law was not brought to the agency’s attention.
“The Procurement Act was not known to the agency. That’s why everything was going through the governing board in line with the NIMASA Act,” Omatseye said.
According to him, all the contracts were advertised.
He said: “When I was the Director-General, and coming from private sector, I ensured that extant guidelines were followed. We ensure that everything was advertised.”
When Obla confronted Omatseye with the fact that a particular contract was awarded for N129million to a company that bidded N100million, when another company had bidded N84million, the defendant said he later cancelled the contract.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned hearing to December 8 for continuation of trial.
By Pita Ochai