Impunity and consequences
In continuation with last week’s edition of Inside NIMASA: 4 Years Heart of Darkness, impunity is a plaque President Goodluck Jonathan’s government will ever remember as a sour point in its leadership. And so were and are many cases of impunity in NIMASA.
Not many Nigerians know that Akpobolokemi’s purported second tenure was not officially and procedurally approved by President Jonathan as was presented to the public. How was the re-appoinment letter signed?
ILLEGAL LONDON OFFICE
Barely one year on assumption of office, Akpobolokemi single-handedly created an illegal NIMASA office in London against all known diplomatic and administrative processes and procedures.
That office is headed by one Ms. Enemuo Amaechi, a staff in the Legal Section of NIMASA and more importantly, a lackey of Akpobolokemi from the same Niger-Delta. At the time, Akpobolokemi had boasted that nobody, neither even Senator Idris Umar, Minister of Transport nor Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, the Nigerian High Commissioner in London, could stop him from achieving his aim of establishing the said office in London. The High Commissioner, who was against the creation of the office, subsequently wrote a letter of complaint to Senator Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Federal Government. In the letter, the High Commissioner complained bitterly about DG-NIMASA’s illegal adventure and highlighted the diplomatic implications such an action could have on relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom due to the surreptitious manner the DG-NIMASA was going about the office. The High Commissioner allegedly described Akpobolokemi as ‘nincompoop’ who has no respect for constituted authority. There is no evidence that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation took any action on the High Commissioner’s complaint.
Initially the illegal office was situated at a rented property within the office complex of Portland Place in the Victoria Area of Central London before it was relocated to one of NIMASA’s abandoned properties at 7-14 Great Dover Street near Elephant and Castle in South East London. Our investigation further revealed that the property used to be occupied by a rent paying firm of engineers who had long vacated the property about four years ago. The property is basically empty at the moment and at the verge of being repossessed for non-payment of appropriate tax and non-compliance with relevant policies of the UK authorities. Ms Amaechi, the head of NIMASA’s illegal office in London presently occupies part of a floor in the building.
There is no specific job description for the office as Nigeria’s High Commission in London performs all diplomatic and administrative duties on behalf of Nigeria. In addition, Nigeria has a Permanent Representative Office to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is domiciled at the Nigeria High Commission. His Excellency Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, CON, is the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to IMO while the Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO is Captain Ibraheem Olugbade, himself a Deputy Director in NIMASA. Traditionally, the Alternate Permanent Representative to IMO had always doubled as NIMASA’s representative in London. However with the coming of Akpobolokemi, coupled with his clannish tendencies, he took away the NIMASA’s responsibilities from the Alternate Permanent Representative and instead created a separate office for his clan woman to head the office at foreign exchange costs to the Nigerian Government. It is not clear how many staff are currently in the London office of NIMASA but there were plans last year to post about 8 staff from NIMASA to the London office, all from Niger-Delta! Some NIMASA members of staff we spoke to claimed that the London office is used as conduit for siphoning the agencies resources and have called for the immediate closure of the London office as it does not add any value to the operations of the agency. Besides, we gathered that Ms Enemuo Amaechi, the head of NIMASA London office, had earlier been recommended for dismissal from NIMASA on the grounds of abscondment. It was revealed that Ms Amaechi had taken study leave to study in the UK after which she failed to return to NIMASA even after several extensions of the study leave. Her case was therefore deemed as abscondment. The then Management and Board of Directors of NIMASA had recommended Ms Amaechi for dismissal. When Akpobolokemi became the DG-NIMASA he reversed the decision. Rather than punish the erring staff, he promoted her to the post of Chief Legal Officer and then appointed her the head of NIMASA London office. In essence, apart from the High Commission and the Office of the Alternate Permanent Representative of Nigeria to IMO, there is the NIMASA office as well. Industry watchers see this development as utterly unnecessary and a complete waste of funds. In reality, NIMASA London office has absolutely no role except to serve the DG-NIMASA and his family whenever they visit London. The most important function of the office is to look after DG’s-NIMASA young daughter who is in secondary school in London. Indeed there is a call now for the immediate closure of the office, disengagement of Ms Amaechi Enemuo followed by an investigation.
Unlike the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) London office which was duly established by law several decades ago, there is no legal backing for the establishment of the NIMASA office in London more so at a time when non-viable outpost including some diplomatic missions were being closed or merged for economies of scale and costs. Our investigation further revealed that there is no record of NIMASA as a legal entity at any of the relevant entities in London including the Companies registry office.
Akpobolokemi has consistently breached the provisions of NIMASA Act which makes it mandatory for the agency’s income to be published annually on papers for the public accountability. He never published any.
Capt. Remeo Itima’s death is still a thing of concern. His family was fed with a story that never took place. Itima was the Managing Director and founder of Global West Vessels Specialists Limited, the company that won the controversial maritime security domain contract. He kicked the bucket six months after the company took off; precisely on August 7, 2010. But having been fed with a different brief; his family issued a statement as made to believe that he died during an operation against theft of crude oil and criminal sea robbery activities around the Warri pilotage district.
How did he die? For a highly skilled and passionate master mariner of international repute, it is hard to believe that Capt. Itima was drowned; that he fell off the patrol boat and before divers could come for help he got drowned. This was the version of the story in NIMASA then.
But the truth untold was that Itima was eliminated in the heat of growing battle for the control of Global West Vessel Specialists Limited, a company he founded and involved the likes of Tompolo, to help him secure the Maritime security domain contract. During president Olusegun Obasanjo’s era, when Dr. Ade Dosumu was the head of NIMASA, Itima sold this idea to the government but it did not fly. Under Barr. Temi Omatseye as Director General, NIMASA , he marketed the idea but did not succeed. All this while there was no Tompolo, Akpobolokemi and Mr. Leke Oyewole, Special Adviser to President Jonothan on Maritime Affairs, who were later co-opted into the ownership of the company.
Before Itima’s death, Global West Vessels Specialists Limited had ownership and control crises such that they held series of meetings with Oyewole in Eko Hotel, Lagos.
After his death, the real ownership emerged with changes in Article and Memorandum of Association as mandated by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
To pacify the family, and conceal the savagery, Itima’s brother was appointed the Managing Director of the company. Oh! Itima toiled for others to enjoy the billions of naira that flowed after!
Another display of rapacious callousness was the abduction of a Maritime Journalist, with The Daily Independent Newspaper for 24 hours to dissuade him from writing a story against NIMASA. According to the Journalist, who wants his identity concealed, he was abducted on Burma Road, Apapa, in front of NIMASA head office by some blood-thirsty thugs, who took him to a place. His predators asked him to make a choice out of three choices: One, get killed; two; to resign from his place of work and three; forget about the story he wanted to write. Of course, he chose to forgo the story with a stern warning from them to keep his mouth shut and pen dry about NIMASA affairs. This victim is still rattled by this experience such that he will prefer to discuss another subject to NIMASA, always.
Disturbed that his monthly collection of “entitlement” said to be N3billion, though not confirmed, is delayed by the unwillingness of a Finance Director (name withheld) to sign the document, Tompolo and his men allegedly traced the home of the director who had been granted a permission of absence on account of deteriorating health. Akpobolokemi had asked for his house address for a visit. Surprisingly, it was Tompolo and his men that allegedly emerged before the sick director with a gun on his head and a heap of document to sign. Of course, the documents were signed and afterward, the director broke down that he was flown abroad for treatment. He was there for months and on return was made redundant.
Next of Heart of Darkness
- How the looting began, etc