Transportation Minister, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, Saturday described the controversial Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract on protection of the nation’s waterways as tied with fraud.
Amaechi in a television interview said the contract was “laced with fraud”, insisting that the Ocean Marine Security Limited (OMSL) did not have the approval of the federal government to embark on the security project.
OMSL collaborates with the Nigerian Navy to execute the contract under an arrangement in which vessels are charged between $2,500 and $1,500 on the first day and subsequently for the period that the vessel is anchored.
The Minister threw a challenge to the company to provide necessary approvals given to him to embark on such contract.
In the interview, Amaechi was quoted saying, “What security was he providing? He charges each vessel on the waters $2,500, then after that $1,500 everyday. He doesn’t pay back that money to the Federal Government.
“He makes $17million from that activity. Who approved it? Nobody! So as Minister for Transport, I said no, we can provide that security. $195 million was approved by the Federal Government to a company that is training Nigerians that will take over the waterways, and take care of the security, then Okunbo is now saying no no, I must do it, he can’t. I wonder why our personal interest will override national interest. I wonder what kind of country we belong to.
“If you said Captain Hosa was doing it, how come we are currently ranked number one in the world in terms of insecurity in the maritime sector. When we came, we were number three, but now we are number one in the world.
“Now the second aspect beyond ranking number one in the world in insecurity is the fact that we are notorious as a country in the whole of Gulf of Guinea; 80 per cent of the crimes in the Gulf of Guinea is committed in Nigerian waters”.
Amaechi who also spoke on the $500m Chinese loan for the railway project assured that the loan is being serviced.
According to him, the sum of $96 million has already been paid.
He also said that the issue of Nigeria signing off her sovereignty in desperation to acquire the loan was being blown out of proportion.
According to him, “we are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that the $500 million loan, we have paid $96 million already. Nigeria is already paying and the $500 million was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there..
“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge, just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down. That is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso Rock and become President or Minister.
“The National Assembly are aware of all these loans. We can’t take loan without the National Assembly. So, ask why they are investigating?
“The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.”