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Senate approves of OMSL secure anchorage operation

…Demands proper funding for Nigerian Navy to acquire more security vessels

The Senate on Wednesday gave its
support to the operation of a Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) by marine logistics
and security company, Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL).

The Senate’s decision was reached
after it examined and reviewed a report by the Joint Committees on Navy, Marine
Transport and Finance, chaired by Senator George Thompson Sekibo.

Its conclusion was that, rather
than criticism, the company deserved applauds for investing in the interest of
the nation’s economy to give security in an area that it is highly needed.

 “Ocean Marine Solutions Limited should be
commended for its genuine national interests in investing over four hundred
million ($400,000,000) dollars into the security at the Secure Anchorage Area
(SAA) in particular and the Nigerian waterways in general by providing the
needed platforms and logistics to the Nigerian Navy to effectively perform
24/7/365 patrol operations as well as to provide the required protection for
vessels waiting to berth at the Lagos ports.

“That since no fraud is found in
the operations of OMSL and is operating at no cost to government, OMSL should
be allowed to continue its operation at SAA,” the Senate said.

The Senate also recommended that
the Nigerian Navy be properly funded, to enable it carry out its constitutional
responsibilities without over depending on Private Maritime Logistics Support
Companies (PMLSC).

It commended the Nigerian Navy,
the Nigerian Ports Authority and NIMASA for initiating and implementing a
process that led to the provision of enhanced and advanced maritime security in
the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) in the Lagos waters in 2013, that has led in
check mating the high rate of attacks on vessels waiting to berth at the Lagos
ports.

The Joint Committee was set up
following a debate at The Senate sitting of Thursday, November 7, 2019.

This followed complaints by the
Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, of alleged illegal security activities of OMSL
at Lagos ports and alleged failure to remit funds to government coffers.

The nine(9) critical stakeholders invited by the Committee to make presentations include: The Federal
Ministry of Transportation, The Nigerian Ports Authority; The Nigerian Maritime
Administration and Safety Agency; The Nigerian Navy; Ocean Marine Solutions
Limited; Nigerian Shippers Council; National Association of Government Approved
Freight Forwarders; Shipowners Association of Nigeria and the Maritime Section
of the Nigeria Police Force.

Concluding the investigations,
the Committee in its report said it was able to arrive at the following
findings, among others: “That the existence and operation of the SAA cannot in
anyway be a threat to national security as it is being operated and supervised
directly by the Nigerian Navy and not by OMSL directly; That the heightened
insecurity in the Nigerian waters in 2012, particularly at the Lagos waters led
to the establishment of SAA.

It also concluded that the
relevant government agencies(NPA, NIMASA, DPR and Nigerian Navy) were involved
in the meetings and consultation process that led to the establishment of SAA;
That the Nigerian Navy as the institution saddled with the responsibility of
securing the territorial waterways operate in the SAA with platforms, logistics
and technical support provided by OMSL; That the boats provided by OMSL at the
SAA are painted in the Nigerian Navy colours, given Navy call signs and
operated essentially as part of the naval fleet under the command and control
of the Nigerian Navy.”

The Committee also affirmed that,
“there is no genuine intention in the argument being canvassed by those seeking
for the dismantling of the SAA facility due to the fact that no alternative
arrangement has been put in place.”

The Committee further noted in
its report that: “The operation of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) by Ocean
Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL) is legal due to the fact that it was
established in 2013 after an intensive stakeholders meeting led by NPA and
NIMASA and the subsequent approval issue by both, through Marine Notice
published in Vanguard of 27th November, 2013 and Guardian newspaper of 4th April,
2014.

With the publication of Marine
Notices, the Nigerian Navy went into an MOU with OMSL. The Notices and MOU
makes the operation of OMSL legal.

“That Ocean Marine Solutions
Limited (OMSL) is a limited liability company registered with the Corporate
Affairs Commission (CAC) and pays its tax to appropriate government agencies
and is having up-to -date tax clearance certificate.

“That the operation of SAA by
OMSL as approved by relevant government agencies (NPA, NIMASA and Nigerian
Navy) it is not a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and as such OMSL does remit
funds to the Federation Account.”

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