By Musa Adamu
The Senate has alleged that a company offering illegal security services at the safe anchorage area in the Lagos ports, OMLS Limited has diverted N263.89 billion and it is investigating it.
Senate said it is probing the matter because by virtue of Section 86 of the 1999 Constitution, each House of the National Assembly is empowered to carry out any investigation on any matter on which it has power to make laws.
Senate insisted that it is only Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy and Maritime police that have statutory responsibility for providing security in the Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Also, the Upper Chamber noted that security of anchorage area in the Lagos ports where ships anchor prior to berthing at any of the ports is function of the above named agencies only.
Senate further said the probe is hinged on its discovery that OMSL limited has since 2014, carried out provision of security of the Lagos ports safe anchorage area on fees from vessels without regard to the Nigerian Ports Authority who by the Ports Act of 1954 has the responsibility.
The motion on the matter was sponsored by Senator Thompson George Sekibo (Rivers East) and presented in plenary on Wednesday.
Leading the debate, Sekibo alleged that “OMSL limited charges every ship that anchored within the Safe Area $2,500 on the first day of anchorage and $1,500 on every subsequent day for the period any ship stayed at the anchorage area.”
He said it takes between 28 to 30 days for ships that anchor at the Safe Anchorage Area to exit and that every ship that anchors at Safe Area pays as much as $46,500 for making use of the anchorage area within the period.
With statistics available to Senate from the Nigerian Ports Authority -NPA, it revealed that about 1,666 ships call at the Lagos Port per quarter and 55% of this number stay at the Safe Anchorage Area to allow time for free space to berth at any of the ports, totalling 916 ships.
Also, Sekibo pointed out that “a rough calculation estimated the number of ships that stayed at the safe Anchorage Area in a year to about 3,665 ships.
“OMSL Limited has alleged that the Nigerian Navy had a Memorandum of Understanding with them in this illegal Operation.OMSL limited in connivance with other security agencies are collecting a whooping sum of $133.28 million or N47.98 billion Naira every year from 2014, meaning that over $733.04 or N263.89 billion have been collected by OMSL limited and its collaborators,” Sekibo stated. Concurring the motion, Senator James Manager (Delta South), described the illegal security activities of OMLS limited as fraudulent and urged the Senate not to ever relent in its probe.
Consequently, the Senate tasked the committees on Navy and marine transport to carry out a comprehensive investigation on the lingering infraction among the agencies and unravel the deeper issues that have not yet been discovered.
Also, it mandated same committees and that of finance to investigate and determine the legality of OMSL operations and report back in four weeks.