NIMASA Threatens To Sue APC, Issues 72-Hour Ultimatum To Party To Retract Allegations


…It's An Empty Threat – APC Campaign
…Accuses Maritime Agency Of Transforming Into PDP's Campaign Outpost

BEVERLY HILLS, February 22, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency (NIMASA), Sunday, threatened to sue the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the party's allegations that NIMASA was the sponsor of the recent hate campaign documentary against the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, broadcast on the NTA and AIT television.

NIMASA Director General, Dr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, who issued the threat at a world press conference in Lagos, however said that the Agency had given the APC a 72-hour ultimatum to retract its allegations failing which NIMASA shall take all necessary steps to seek redress.

But the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) has dismissed as empty the threat of litigation against it by NIMASA over the allegations.

A statement by the Directorate of Media and Publicity of the APCPCO signed by Garba Shehu, in reaction to the 72-hour ultimatum by NIMASA, demanding retraction and apology over the said report, said the APC will present credible witnesses in court to prove not only this, but the fact that the maritime agency has since transformed into a campaign outpost for the PDP.

“There are several acts of the management that are at variance with the objectives and scope of activities of the agency as spelled out under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, 2007.

“NIMASA Act does not envisage the involvement of the agency in political campaign. It certainly has no provision for hate campaigns against Buhari, nor does it allow for the funding of the activities of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN).

“NIMASA is trying to reduce this to a campaign issue, but the truth is that the conversion of a statutory government agency into one actively promoting partisan political actions of the president is of national significance. It assumes a more serious dimension when staff are denied their dues and money shipped out to fund illegal activities,” the statement said.

Speaking at the press conference in Lagos on Sunday, NIMASA boss, Akpobolokemi, said: “In recent times, attempts have been made by the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) and some misguided elements and individuals to impugn the integrity of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its management.

“The vicious campaign is intended to cast aspersions on the activities and integrity of NIMASA as a responsible corporate entity of government.”

According to Akpobolokemi, “The attempts consist of a trail of mischievous representations and blatant lies, orchestrated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to discredit the giant and monumental strides President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has achieved through NIMASA and other Agencies in the Maritime Sector.

“In the process, important issues of state have been trivialised on the altar of political grandstanding at the expense of the unity of our dear country, Nigeria.”

Speaking further, the NIMASA boss said: “It must be echoed for record purposes that NIMASA is not a political party. We are a responsible Government Agency trying our best to fulfil the mandate setting us up as an organisation. We will not therefore be dragged into malicious politicking of our accusers, neither would we be intimidated into not parading our achievements nor shy away from our core responsibilities.”

Speaking on what he described as APC's malicious attacks on NIMASA, Akpobolokemi said: “In what has become a deliberate orchestrated attempt to undermine and rubbish all performing and strategic institutions of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the APC has mounted relentless attack and vicious propaganda, all in the name of politics, to attack the Nigerian Army, Police, Directorate of State Security, NNPC and its latest victim – NIMASA.

“Prominent amongst the falsehood perpetrated by APC against NIMASA is the allegation that NIMASA contracted the country's maritime security to a private firm they claim is owned by Tompolo. I here unequivocally state that this accusation is false. NIMASA neither entered into any such security contract with any private company nor with Tompolo.

“These unfortunate allegations have mutated over time culminating in their rather callous and condescending attempts to variously describe NIMASA as the President's ATM, and now labelling us as the sponsors of hate campaigns against the APC Presidential candidate.

“For the avoidance of doubts, the NIMASA success story which is globally celebrated today is borne out of hard work, visionary leadership and team spirit which cannot be dampened, regardless of the orchestrated attempts to trivialise the giant strides of this administration.

“No amount of smear campaign by the APC or any other body for that matter will divert us from our committed course and vision of bequeathing a robust Maritime Safety Administration to generations unborn.

“It is on record that NIMASA has in the preceding years demonstrated an uncommon sense of purpose which has resulted in the evolution of a bold Maritime Safety Administration and a responsive and visionary Agency committed to growing the potentials of the sector through the creation of capacity, jobs and various opportunities ultimately designed to propel Nigeria to that enviable status of a Maritime Nation.

“The Agency entered into partnership with a competent Nigerian maritime company; Global West Vessels Specialist Limited (GWSVSL) to provide its platforms to patrol the coastline. With the involvement of Global West, the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement now boasts of various categories of boats, contrary to what obtained in the past.

“The PPP project has also made it possible for the Agency to provide suitable platforms to the relevant security Agencies collaborating with us to fight piracy and other sundry security breaches in our waters. Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been signed and are being implemented between the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force and the NIMASA.

“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 tracked, interdicted and arrested vessels engaged in criminal activities in our waters.

“Mindful of its responsibility to the Nigerian people, the Federal Government has provided the enabling environment for the Agency to enhance our maritime domain awareness. The MoU with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force has enhanced Water patrol and aerial surveillance of Nigeria's maritime domain.”

On capacity development role of his agency, Akpobolokemi said: “I am glad to inform you that under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) of NIMASA, over 2,500 young Nigerians have benefitted or are currently enjoying various levels of scholarship in reputable institutions in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and Philippines. The students are studying to become marine engineers, naval architects and nautical scientists.

“This has gone on successfully devoid of any discrimination; hence we were taken aback by the recent media publications on non payment of the students' fees, which we believe may have been sponsored by the APC machinery. 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.

“We have no doubt that in the next five years, Nigeria would have produced a sizeable number of qualified seafarers satisfying local demands and also earning scarce foreign exchange from working on board foreign ships.

“As a forward looking Management, this administration has also tailored a long-term solution to the dearth of qualified professionals in the Nigerian Maritime sector; hence it conceived the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU). The university will produce high level manpower for Nigeria's maritime/shipping sector on sustainable basis. It will provide training for seafarers, master mariners, marine engineers, naval architects, nautical scientists and other specialised maritime/shipping trade skills. The NMU is envisaged to become a Centre for Excellence in innovative research for the maritime sector in the West and Central Africa sub-region when it fully evolves.”

On port safety, security and ISPS code implementation, he said: “The improved International Ships and Port Facility Security (ISPS ) Code compliance level in Nigerian ports and terminals has pitched those benefiting from the status quo against the Agency.

“Since the Federal Government under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration appointed the Agency as the Designated Authority for ISPS implementation in the country, compliance level rose from a paltry 7 percent to over 83percent within two years. This success story in the ISPS Code compliance has ensured a better environment for port operations and eliminated the era of port rats, hawking, and touting within the vicinity of our ports.”

“Unlike in the past, one can now import goods and be sure that the goods arrive intact without the usual dreadful experience.”

“The NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre has also assisted in our quest to combat all illicit activities in the Nigerian 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 capability to detect boats, ships and objects of predefined cross-section floating on water and has helped to reduced incidence of piracy and oil theft to the barest minimum.

“This achievement of ours has pitched the sponsors of oil theft and piracy attacks against the Agency and hence the numerous mudslinging on NIMASA and its leadership most of which are sponsored by unscrupulous elements. Our vision is to transform the maritime sector into an industry that will generate capable local manpower, which will contribute significantly to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. We will not be surprised if it is these pirates and oil thieves who are using the APC veil to sponsor the attacks on the Agency.

“Let us make bold to state here that the Agency will not be distracted by the activities of persons and institutions seeking to bring important matters of state to a pedestrian level by cheap and baseless propaganda. We remain committed to the ideals setting up NIMASA and resolute in efforts at evolving a responsible and responsive Safety Administration in the belief that the future of our country can only be guaranteed by a focused leadership.