The House of Representatives has began investigations into a contract awarded to HLS International Limited by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency worth $214.8m.
The contract, which was awarded for the supply of certain security surveillance equipments included $195,300,000 for the actual contract and an additional $19,530,000 that NIMASA reportedly agreed to pay to the firm for ‘management training consideration’.
The motion to investigate the contract was moved at Thursday’s plenary session by Benjamin Kalu in what he titled, ‘Urgent need to investigate the ‘deep blue’ contract of $195,300,000 between the Federal Ministry of Transportation and HSL International Limited and the alleged use of the cabotage funds to service the contract.’ Unanimously adopting the motion, the House urged NIMASA to halt all payments in relation to the ‘deep blue’ contract.
The House further resolved to setting up a committee to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the activities of the ministry and NIMASA in relation to the contract and the alleged “diversion of the cabotage funds and other funds to covertly execute the deep blue contract.”
Recall that a coalition of nine civil organisations had earlier called on the National Assembly to revisit its earlier probe of the $195m coastal waterways security contract. The group, under the aegis of Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative, at a press briefing in Abuja said revisiting the probe of the contract was necessary given that the action would have grave national security implications.
Leader of the coalition, Solomon Adodo, said the award of the contract to a foreign security firm contravened some sections of the nation’s constitution, which provided that the security of a country should be in the hands of its armed forces. He said, “All over the world, no nation leaves the affairs of national security totally in the command and control of a private firm.
“Nigeria should therefore not be an exception. “The law thus vested solely the task of protecting our waterways in the Nigerian Navy. “The Navy was given expanded military roles especially in the oil and gas sectors of the Nigerian maritime economy.”