The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has stopped making payment to Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL) owned by ex-militant Government Ekpemukpolo also known as Tompolo since the sack of Patrick Akpobolokemi as the agency’s Director-General on July 16.
Three days before Akpobolokemi was fired by President Muhammadu Buhari – the Federal Ministry of Transport had directed NIMASA to discontinue payment to GWVSNL for the provision of platforms for security of the nation’s waterways. The company, reportedly owned by a former Niger Delta militant signed the contract with NIMASA in 2011.
“The company has submitted two invoices since the former DG was removed from office but I can tell you boldly that NIMASA will not pay. Our present DG will not honour any such commitment,” a source in the finance department of the agency said on condition of anonymity.
The source further hinted that the legal department of the agency was studying the contract between NIMASA and GWVSNL with a view to fully revoking the controversial contract.
“This contract can definitely no longer continue because it is not in the best interest of NIMASA and of Nigeria. Did you know that GWVSNL was paid half of the $150million (N30 billion) collected from Nigeria LNG? What did they do to collect half of that money.
“The NLNG payment was initiated and pursued since 2007 under the management of Dr. Ade Dosunmu. They had concluded everything only awaiting payment. In fact, a bank account had been opened at Zenith Bank way back at the time for the NLNG payment only for these guys and come and claim that they pursued the collection and got paid more than half of the money.
“This is what NIMASA has been turned into. Let us even assume that they were the ones that recovered the money but where in the world do you pay a company half of the money it recovered? We had such arrangements for the collection of NIMASA’s three percent levy in the past and the company involved was paid five percent of the money it recovers above a set benchmark,” the source, who is a senior staff in the agency said.
Checks revealed that the company used for the collection of the three percent NIMASA levy in the past was OA Consulting, which was paid only five percent on incremental revenue above benchmark.
It would be recalled that in June, pioneer Chairman of the Board of NIMASA, Alhaji Tijjani Ramalan said Tompolo’s company was paid N1.5billion monthly by NIMASA to execute the contract.
He, however, lamented that despite the huge payment, the country still lost over 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil theft.
The former NIMASA chairman called on President Buhari to cancel the contract. He said: “Over 400, 000 barrels of crude oil are being stolen daily from our shores under President Jonathan yet we had a government that has the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the government of Jonathan decides to hand over the security of our maritime waters to Tompolo at a very exorbitant amount of money. And these same people that are given the job of our maritime security are the ones that are collaborating with the international shipping companies to steal our oil.”
According to him, one of the ways to help the country’s economy bounce back is to revoke Tompolo’s contract. “And if Buhari does not do so, we will be the first to start attacking him. There is no basis to give that kind of billion naira job to ex-militants,” he declared.
Tompolo was in the eye of the storm in December 2014 when he reportedly acquired seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships allegedly to fight piracy on the waterways.
The Deputy Director/Head Public Affairs of the agency, Hajia Lami Tumaka could not be reached for comments as at the time of going to press.
By Pita Ochai