House hails NIMASA over transparency in Deep Blue Project

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…As Nigeria receives AU award on piracy reduction

The House of Representatives has expressed its delight in the transparency exhibited by the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in handling the Deep Blue Project contract.

Speaking for the House Tuesday in Abuja was the Chairman, House Committee on the Nigerian Navy, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, who commended the agency for the commitment to transparency in its execution of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also known as the Deep Blue Project.

Jamoh speaking at the public hearing

He made the commendation when the Agency’s management appeared before the Committee currently investigating the Deep Blue Contract awarded to the HLS International Limited by Nigeria.

In his words, “We in the Committee of the Navy commend your Management team at NIMASA for providing all documents we have requested for. It shows that you have nothing to hide. Our desire is to ensure public funds are spent not only in public interest but in accordance with the provisions of the laws of the land”.

Also a member of the Committee, Hon. Alao Ajala, expressed delight at the fact that Nigeria had exited the global Piracy List, a position that was re-echoed by most members of the Committee in their acknowledgment of the role the Nigerian Navy was playing in securing the nation’s territorial waters.

Earlier, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, had said that the Agency acted in line with approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the funding of the project at the cost of $195 million.

He added that this was in addition to a management fee of 10 per cent, saying that the fund invested in managing the assets since their deployment was appropriated for by the National Assembly (NASS).

Jamoh also in his presentation disclosed that the Korean Government had identified with the Deep Blue Project.

“The Korean Government is delighted at the concept of the Deep Blue Project and has promised to support Nigeria by donating a vessel to increase its fleet under the project. The government of Japan has also joined by pledging support via funds”, he disclosed.

He listed assets acquired by NIMASA for the project to include 17 Fast Intervention Vessels, 2 Special Mission Vessels, 2 Special Mission Aircrafts, 3 Special Mission Helicopters 4 unmanned aerial vessels and 16 armored vehicles.

The NIMASA team at the hearing

The NIMASA boss told the Committee that the project also had a command and control unit known as the C4i Centre located in a NIMASA facility in Lagos. He said it was jointly manned by officials from all the arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces, NIMASA staff and other para-military agencies who were part of the project.

The assets, he further said, were properties of the Agency manned and operated by the various Military arms of government to enhance security of commercial shipping in the Nigerian maritime domain.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has disclosed that Nigeria has received an international recognition in form of an award from the African Union for the concept of the Deep Blue Project.

Speaking at the investigative hearing on the Deep Blue Project Contract to HLS International Limited by the House of Representatives Committee on Navy, Amaechi said necessary approvals were secured before the implementation of the project.

He said, “I was to be in Nairobi last week as the African Union gave us award for the Deep Blue Project. Presently, the crime rate on our waters and the Gulf of Guinea region has gone down. Before now, we ranked number one in the world, but since the deployment of the HLSI project, piracy has gone down drastically”.

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