Members of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives committee on Marine, Finance and Navy have kicked against control of Nigerian waterways by an Israeli firm.
The committee also raised alarm that a vessel fully equipped with arms, ammunition and trained naval personnel was on its way to Nigeria to secure the nation’s territorial waters.
These concerns were raised by the committee during an investigative hearing on the suspension of multi-million dollar contract awarded to the Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), at the National Assembly yesterday.
The rejection of the water ways contract started when chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator George Sekibo, asked the navy to explain the role of Israeli firm on the nation’s waterways.
Senator Sekibo specifically asked the naval chief, if he was aware that Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency had awarded a contract to an Israeli firm to secure the nation’s waterways.
Sekibo asked, “Are you aware that NIMASA has awarded a contract called Deep Blue Sea to an Israeli company, HLSI, to the tune of $195.3m to secure the riverine areas? I have the contract number here. Are you aware?’’
The naval chief answered in the affirmative saying, “Yes, I am aware that there is a contract like that ongoing and the facilities are being provided. I am aware.’’
Sekibo then asked if the Israeli were to secure the nation’s waters or to provide a platform for the navy.
The senators blamed the Federal Government in contracting the security of Nigerian territorial waters to a foreign firm after sacking an indigenous firm, the OMSL.
Responding to questions from the lawmakers, the representatives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Tarioworio Dick, told the lawmakers that there is a contract like that ongoing and that facilities were being provided by an Israeli firm.
Dick also told the panel that the navy allowed the Nigerian company (OMSL) to undertake security arrangement in the seas around Nigeria.
“I am aware of the contract and that facilities are being provided. I am aware. For me the aspect I have seen is that they are providing some platforms for the Nigerian Navy which we are going to use.
“The vessels they are providing for us have not arrived Nigeria but there will be weapons on these vessels.” he said.
While cross examining Dick, a member of the joint Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, asked the representative of the Navy on who exactly would control the vessels.
In his response, Dick said the vessels would be manned by Nigerian Navy, a response that contradicted the legislator’s first position that an Israeli security firm would be in charge.