The House of Representatives on Thursday mandated Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to stop forthwith all payment relating to the $195.3 million Deep Blue Contract, awarded to a foreign private company in 2017.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion under ‘matters of public importance’ sponsored by Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who alleged that the Agency was using the Cabotage Fund to service the contract.
To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Marine and institutions and Public Procurement to immediately commence a comprehensive investigation into the contract awarded to HLS International Limited for the supply of certain security and surveillance equipment and systems and also establishing the Integrated national coastal surveillance and waterways protection solutions with command and control of infrastructure in the nation’s territorial waters.
Hon. Kalu, who called for the House intervention, explained that NIMASA agreed to pay up the total sum of $19.53 million to HLSI as management training consideration, further agreeing according to appendix 4 of the agreement that both sums would be paid in monthly instalments over a period of 36 months from July 2017 until June 2020.
The lawmaker argued that the award of the contract was in breach of the provisions of Section 80(3 & 4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which stipulates that: “No money shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.
“No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
As stipulated in the motion, the sum of $8.4 million will be paid monthly between 27th July 2017 to 27th June 2018; $5.250 million paid monthly between 27th July 2018 to 27th June 2019 while $4.250 million will be paid monthly between 27th July 2019 to 27th June 2020.
In his lead debate, Hon. Kalu averred that: “The amount if converted to naira is over N93 billion and there is urgent need to investigate the matter because the money used in paying the Israeli security company was borrowed and it will be due for repayment by June 2020.”
He said out of the $95.3 million, NIMASA sourced $30.4 million without the approval of the National Assembly as provided by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), adding that due process was not followed.
While noting that the 8th Assembly had carried out a similar probe on the alleged contract scam in 2018, Hon. Kalu observed that: “What is meant for Nigerians should be spent for Nigerians because the security of the Nigerian waterways can’t be placed in the hands of foreigners.”
Ruling on the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase who presided over the plenary mandated relevant Committees to work on its report back within 3 weeks.