The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Ziakede Akpobolokemi, has denied allegations by the All Progressives Congress, APC, that it was behind a documentary against its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Akpobolokemi described the allegations as “attempts by the All Progressive Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation to impugn the integrity” of the agency and its management.
According to the Director General, NIMASA is not an affiliate of any political party. He said the Agency should not be “dragged into malicious politicking”.
Mr. Akpobolokemi described the allegation that the maritime agency was behind the hate messages against Mr. Buhari as unfounded. He said the agency through its lawyers have given its accusers 72 hours to retract their statement and offer an apology to NIMASA.
“Let me reiterate here, that we have instructed our solicitors to give our accusers the opportunity of retracting their unfounded allegations failing which we shall take all necessary steps to seek redress,” Mr . Akpobolokemi said.
Mr. Akpobolokemi also denied that the agency had contracted out Nigeria’s maritime security to Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
Mr. Akpobolokemi made the denial at a press briefing in Lagos on Sunday afternoon.
“I hereby unequivocally state that this accusation is false. NIMASA neither entered into any such security contract with any private company nor Tompolo,” NIMASA’s DG said.
He said the agency engaged in a public private partnership with Global West Vessels Specialist Limited to help its platforms patrol the coastline.
“Contrary to widespread speculation, Global West did not buy warships for NIMASA, what we have are our routine operational vessels with which the Nigerian Navy and the Agency collectively have successfully carried out the Agency’s mandate as well as track, interdict and arrest vessels engaged in criminal activities in our waters,” the DG said.
Mr. Akpobolokemi asked journalists to investigate the ownership of Global West Vessels Specialist Limited with the Corporate Affairs Commission to ascertain if Tompolo has shares or owns the company.
The NIMASA DG also denied reports that the agency had not been paying the tuition fees of students studying abroad under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme of NIMASA.
“For the avoidance of doubts, no student of the NSDP programme has been sent out of school for fees and none will be sent out because all fees have been paid by NIMASA till date,” he said.
The DG stated that the implementation and compliance level of the International Ships and Port Facility Security, ISPS, rose from a paltry 7 per cent to 83 per cent within two years.
This he said has ensured a better environment for port operations and eliminated port rats, hawking and touting with the vicinity of the ports.
“The NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre has also assisted in our quest to combat all illicit activities in the maritime domain and beyond. The agency is now able to respond to any distress call on Nigerian waters and even beyond. The new 24 -hour Satellite Surveillance equipment has the capacity to detect boats, ships and objects of predefined cross-section floating on water and has helped to reduce incidence of piracy and oil theft to the barest minimum,” Mr. Akpobolokemi said.
He said sponsors of oil theft and piracy attacks are against the agency, hence, the numerous mudslinging on the agency and its leadership.