- As Police insists on examining containers after Customs release
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun; ex-Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Farida Waziri; ex-bosses of SURE-P, Gen Martin Agwai, retd, and Christopher Kolade, all failed to show up, yesterday, to defend the roles they played in alleged N1 trillion failed rail contract scam.
None of the principal officers summoned showed up at the investigative hearing on the N1 trillion scam. At press time, none had sent any letter to state why he or she failed to appear before the investigative panel.
This did not go down well with the chairman of the adhoc committee, Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbaonayinma, who vowed in his opening remarks that all shoddy rail contract deals between 2010 and 2014 would be unearthed.
He said: “In spite of challenges faced by the committee, we are determined to fulfil the mandate given to the committee.
“Nigerians must know how their money was spent in the rail sector, I make bold to say that anyone found wanting will be exposed.’’
Immediately the session started at about 10.45am, the committee chairman ordered representatives of SURE-P to defend how N77 billion was disbursed to contractors involved in all the rail projects.
Convener of Presidential Committee on Rail under SURE-P, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, quickly responded that the amount involved was N73.08 billion not N77 billion. Ohuabunwa, while defending his committee before it was stopped, said: “I’m proud to say that we carried out all our assignments well as verified all payments and projects nationwide.’
He also asserted that SURE-P was not party to the award of railway contracts, disclosing that a total sum of N73 billion was expended on various railway projects between June 2012 and March 2014 when the tenure of the intervention outfit came to an abrupt end.
In the meantime, the Maritime Police Command has insisted that its officers will continue to carry out checks on containers even after such containers have been released from the port by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Speaking exclusively with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY at the Command’s Obalende, Lagos headquarters, its spokesman, Sodik Tunde said, “If we receive information on a certain container, police has the power to make arrest based on the credibility of that information. When we receive intelligence report we act on it. We have been able to make some seizures too. It is not as if police is undermining the work of Customs in performing their duties.”
He said crime rate at the port has reduced compared to previous years.
“The marine police, inland waterways police, and port police have been able to sensitize people on those vulnerable points. What we do is to prevent crimes from happening by increasing our patrol and those flash points we have. We either post some of our men there or we do a joint patrol with the Nigerian Navy to cover the port area and our waterways,” he said.
The Marine Police Command image maker enjoined Nigerians to have confidence in the Police.
“We are working on people to see the police as someone you can give information and you are secured. For instance, someone just say I have this information and I’ll want to be protected. Police are not magicians; we depend on intelligent report and working with group of people to make our society a better place for people to live in,” he said.
The Maritime Police Command, headed by Assistant Inspector General of Police Kola Sodipo, comprises Eastern and Western Port Commands, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Command and the Marine Police Command.
Vanguard with additional report from Ships & Ports