House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Committee on Marine Safety on Tuesday grilled the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, over a controversial contract to recover NIMASA’s alleged $5bn debts.

A firm, SNECO Financial Services, which was incorporated on April 4, 2016, was awarded the contract.

The House committee, which is chaired by Mr. Umar Bago, is in possession of petitions, alleging breach of due process and fraud in the award of the contract.

One of the petitions clearly stated that under the terms of the contract, SNECO would take 13 per cent of the recovered debts, a figure the committee queried for being “huge.”

Lawmakers observed that this would be about $65m profit for the firm.

Bago said, “We have the petitions here. The petitioners consider this a waste of public funds.

“Why will NIMASA engage another firm to perform its functions? Why do we have staff in NIMASA? What is their work?”

Another member of the committee, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Mr. Dan Asuquo, directed Peterside to produce the audited account of the firm.

“What is the pedigree of SNECO?

“Where is their audited account? We want to know their owners,” he added.

But Peterside, a former member of the House, told the session that NIMASA complied with all due process required in awarding the contract.

He explained how the Bureau of Public Procurement awarded a certificate of no objection on the contract.

The NIMASA boss, however, denied that he ever mentioned that NIMASA was owed $5bn or $10bn as had been quoted by some persons.

According to him, the debt owed the agency from 2004 to 2016 was $420.55m.

He wondered how the petitioners arrived at the $5bn that was quoted.

Peterside added, “I never said that NIMASA was owed $5bn. The entire volume of shipping trade in Nigeria in the last four years is nothing close to $10bn.

“We complied with every provision of the Public Procurement Act.”

But, lawmakers were not satisfied with his explanations and insisted on holding a full investigative hearing on the controversial contract.

“DG, there will be an investigative hearing. So, you can speak on those questions that you have answers to give now.

“On those questions that you are not ready to answer, please prepare fully and come during the investigative hearing,” Bago said.

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