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N1.5 Billion NIMASA Fraud: Presidency stalls probe …Agency now has two DG's, Staff in confusion

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Mr. Temisan Omatseye
The presidency may have stalled the prosecution of the Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Mr. Temisan Omatseye who alongside Director of Finance, Malam Jarma Bulama and its Director of Procurement, Alhaji M. K.Shehu allegedly defrauded the agency of about N1.5 Billion.

Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) allege that Omatseye along with NIMASA's Director of Finance, Malam Jarma Bulama and its Director of Procurement, Alhaji M. K.Shehu, frittered away N130 million between January and June 2010 due to over pricing of contracts, an audit report noted.

According to the audit report, contracts were awarded in local currency to the tune of 5.127 billion naira and in foreign currency worth 1.863 million dollars from January to June 2010. A total of 451 contracts were awarded during the period at costs of N5.4 billion. The report also claimed that it detected fraud in refunds, cash advances and supplies.

The audit report noted that contracts approved beyond the threshold as set by the Bureau for Public Procurement [BPP] were valued at N2.437 billion, in addition to another set of dollar-denominated contracts worth $1.863 million. gathered that the Presidency is currently sitting on a recommendation of the Minister of Transport, Mr. Yusuf Sulaiman to have the NIMASA DG and other Directors and board members sacked for corruption and inefficiency.

However, few days after he was granted bail from the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Omatseye and the two other directors headed straight to resume work after the board headed by Senator Baba Tella had suspended them and appointed Mr. Niran Aderogba as Acting Director.

Sources hinted that both Omatseye and Aderogba have been parading themselves as Director Generals, treating files in that capacity and leaving staffers at the agency confused. As one of the staff puts it “we are all confused now, the whole place is in a mess and we don't even know who to answer to.”

Sources informed that Omatseye and his group of suspended NIMASA officials have been mounting pressures using their contacts in the Presidency to forestall their prosecution even when an external auditor had confirmed through an audited report that indeed they have defrauded the agency.

Omatseye and his group are said to have told the board that they have no powers to suspend them and that their suspension has to come from the Presidency. But the Act setting up NIMASA gave powers to the board to suspend erring directors and recommend same to the Presidency. gathered that assurances from some top Presidential aides who are said to be interested in maintaining the status quo may have strengthened Omatseye and his gang to resume work and insist or retaining their positions.

According to a source “you know a lot of people in the presidency are interested in NIMASA and they might be benefitting from contracts there too so it will be in their interest to want to keep the man who is looking out for them and so that is why we find ourselves in this dilemma. It is unfortunate,” the source told in confidence.


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