Nigeria is losing as much as $70 million annually due to illegal fishing and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea, Managing Director of HLS International Systems and Technologies Limited, Mr. Tal Spektor, has disclosed. HLS International Systems and Technologies is the company given contract by the Federal Government to secure the nation’s waterways.
Also, Minister of Transport, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, has confirmed that all contracts awarded for the protection of Nigerian waterways by the ministry and the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration (NIMASA) passed through due process.
Testifying before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration investigating allegations of fictitious contract awards and gross mismanagement of billions of naira by NIMASA, both the minister and Spektor submitted that the contract went through due approval.
Spektor disclosed that the contract was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), explaining that a committee headed by the Minister of Defence also reviewed the approval and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) carried out due diligence before issuing a certificate of no objection. He lamented that the country was losing so much due to activities of criminals through illegal fishing, piracy, hijacking of vessels.
He added that in 2016 alone, 65 cases of criminal activities were recorded in Nigeria’s waterways. He said the intensity of crime in the Gulf of Guinea necessitated the contract, which HSL is to provide three special missionary helicopters, 17 fast patrol boats to be brought from Canada, two special mission aircraft and two special mission vessels from Netherlands. “Nigeria is losing $70 million from illegal fishing yearly; and this contract and project will help to contain all suspicious activities on Nigeria’s waters,” he said.
According to him, the contract, which is for three years, also include the provision of 16 armoured vehicles and four unit UAVs. He said the contract also include the provision of a C for I centre, where NIMASA can monitor the Nigerian waters. In his presentation, Amaechi, represented by the Director of Procurement in the ministry, Mallam Shehu Aliyu, said the contract went through all due process procedures and was duly okayed by the BPP.
“The contract for the security of the water ways to HSL International followed due process from beginning to the end.