The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has highlighted that the ‘NIMASA-Barugu’, one of the gunboats in the fleet of Global West Vessels Specialists (GWVS), which sank on Sunday, April 3, was subject to litigation under the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Agency’s Assistant Director, Public Relations, Mr. Edward Osagie, made the clarification in a statement to newsmen in Lagos, timely absolving the agency of any direct involvement with the boat when it sank.
“It is imperative to state that, the Vessel which sank on Sunday the third of April somewhere in Kirikiri Lagos is solely the property of GWVSL.
The Vessel is in sole possession of GWVSL, and the vessel is also under the technical and economic control of GWVSL”, the image-maker pointed out, stressing that the “GWVSL and no one else takes responsibility for the sinking of the vessel”.
He also observed that since the Vessel did not sink while trading in Nigerian waters, the NIMASA could be held liable for issuing safety certification for a vessel that was un-seaworthy.
“NIMASA is not responsible for Vessels kept in anchorage for years without proceeding on any voyage where it may constitute a danger to its crew, other vessels or the marine environment.
The vessel reportedly sank at about 10:13 p.m on Saturday night in spite of efforts to salvage it.
Osagie described the incident as an unfortunate development, adding that the vessel was actually one of Global West boats that was in service with the Agency years ago.
“This boat has the name NIMASA-Barugu right from the days of the contract.
There are also other boats in this contractual category in Warri.
“Collectively, the boats and their management have remained a subject of litigation and under the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for years,” he said.
He said that for the avoidance of doubt, it was on record that NIMASA recently made concerted efforts toward reactivating a few of the serviceable boats in this fleet but was constrained by the legal encumbrances due to the nature of the case in court.
“As a law-abiding entity, we approached the matter under sound legal advisory.
“Finally, it must be stated that this vessel was not in our jetty and under our management at the time of the incident.
“The crew onboard does not report to NIMASA but to Global West management, its owners,” he said.
A video, on Sunday 3rd April 2022, had emerged on social media where a patrol vessel with the inscription NIMASA-Barugu on it, belonging to Messers Global West Specialist Vessels Limited sank in Lagos.
Expatiating on how the gunboat came to bear the agency’s name, he also explained:
“The Boat was one of the Vessels owned by GWSVL and deployed for patrol during the implementation of a contractual agreement between the Company and the Agency, NIMASA.
The contract which was entered into in 2012 was for Global West to provide platforms and other equipment for NIMASA to patrol the Nigerian Maritime domain effectively in the quest to attain the status of an efficient Maritime Administration
“However things went south when in 2015 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, started investigating the contract and instituted criminal cases against Global West Specialist Vessels Limited. GSVSL and more importantly key NIMASA staff were charged to court for criminal related offences.
“NIMASA Senior Accountants Auditors and other senior staff who were not charged to court were made to report at the EFCC every other day to answer questions on the PPP transaction involving Global West.
In these circumstances, the Agency had to stop all transactions cum payments to GWVSL.
“Eventually GWVSL escaped in a no-case submission against the criminal trial.
However, this has nothing to do with the cases instituted by GWVSL against the Agency for claims ranging from breach of contract to demands for further damages for deliberately breaching the contract.
“If GWVSL wants NIMASA to assist with maintenance and other sundry expenses of their vessels, won’t they withdraw or suspend the cases instituted by it against NIMASA?
“At this point, NIMASA had no option but to begin to defend itself.
The Agency has done this resolutely, unflinchingly with a single-minded focus, ignoring the noisy attempts by GWVSL as mentioned earlier to pressurize NIMASA into paying their bills while they awaited the crystallization of the proceeds of unfairly obtained judicial decisions.
“Despite all these obvious challenges, NIMASA Management under this Administration made concerted efforts towards reactivating the few serviceable boats in the fleet of GWSVL but was constrained by the legal encumbrances due to the nature of the cases in court.
As a law-abiding entity, NIMASA approached the mater under sound legal advisory”, he also stated, noting that the crew onboard are safe, even as preliminary arrangements to mitigate against pollution of the marine environment around the Kirikiri axis are being made.
The Agency’s image-maker concluded by reassuring of NIMASA’s Commitment to her statutory responsibility of administering safety and regulating the industry within the ambit of every legal framework.