N263bn port revenue: Senate to investigate OMSL, security agencies

• Gives committee 4 weeks to report back to plenary

Senate on Thursday, mandated the committees on Navy, Marine transportation and Finance to investigate the activities of Messrs OMSL limited and other security agencies in the safe Anchorage Area in the Lagos ports to determine the legality of their operations and report back in four weeks.

The upper legislative house also mandated its committees on Navy, Marine Transport and Finance to carry out a comprehensive investigation on the lingering infractions among the agencies with a view to resolving the security impasse it will bring to the nation.

The resolution of the Senate was the culmination of deliberation on the motion on alleged “illegal security activities by Messrs OMSL Limited at the Safe Anchorage of Lagos Ports and the need to investigate their excesses.”

The Senate believed that illegal collections of monies due to the national coffers since 2014 may have cumulatively amounted to N263bn.

Sponsored by senator George Thompson Sekibo Tivers East pointed out that it is the statutory ‘Responsibility of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to ensure security and safety within Nigeria’s territorial waters.

He said the safety and security of the Safe Anchorage Area in the Lagos waters where ships going to Lagos ports anchor prior to berthing at any of the ports in Lagos is also within the statutory function of the above-named agencies.

While deliberating the motion, the Senate also noted that a security company registered in the name of OMSL limited has since 2014 carried out a provision of security of the Lagos ports Safe Anchorage Area on fees from vessels without regard to the Nigerian Ports Authority who by the Ports Act of 1954 has the responsibility of the area;

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The Senate observed that the OMSL limited charged every ship that anchored within the Safe Area $2,500 on the first-day anchorage and $1,500 on every subsequent day for the period any ship stayed at the anchorage area;

It also observed that it takes between 28 to 30 days for ships that anchor at the Safe Anchorage Area to exit, every ship that anchors at Safe Area pays as much as $46,500 for making use of the anchorage.

The motion further noted that about 1,666 ships call at the Lagos Port per quarter (according to available statistics from the Nigerian Ports Authority -NPA) and 55% of this number stay at the Safe Anchorage Area to allow time for free space to berth at any of the ports; that is 916 ships.

According to the motion, a rough calculation estimated the number of ships that stayed at the safe Anchorage Area in a year to about 3,665 ships.

It also stated that OMSL Limited has alleged that the Nigerian Navy had a Memorandum of Understanding with them in this illegal operation.

Senator Sekibo in the motion alleged that OMSL limited in connivance with other security agencies are collecting a whooping sum of $133.28 million or N47.98 billion Naira every year from 2014, meaning that over $733.04 or N263.89 billion have been collected by OMSL limited and its collaborators;

He pointed out that by virtue of the Ports Act (1954), the Anchorage Area is an integral part of NPA statutory responsibility while NIMASA, Marine Police and Nigerian Navy have the sole responsibility to ensure a safe and secure Nigeria territorial waters.

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