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Ocean Marine threatens to sue NPA on security contract


The Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, a maritime security company, has threatened legal action if the Nigerian Ports Authority fails to rescind its order suspending its security contract at the Lagos ports.
   

   
The NPA suspended the OMSL multi-million dollars contract at the ports based on the directive of the Senate, which has also commenced a probe of its activities.

Punch learnt that the security firm signed a 20-year contract to secure Nigeria’s vast coastline against sea pirates, smugglers and illegal oil bunkering.

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It has, therefore, petitioned the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, to urgently intervene and halt what it called moves to hound it out of business.

The Senate on Thursday had alleged that the company was offering illegal security services at the Safe Anchorage Area in the Lagos ports and had allegedly diverted N263.89bn.
   

   
The red chamber subsequently mandated its committees on Navy and Marine Transport to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter and report back to it for further legislative action.

Similarly, the NPA had issued a Marine Notice No 5 of 2019 to the firm.

The Marine Notice is a restriction placed by the Harbour Master informing mariners to navigate freely in the Secured Anchorage Area of the ports.

The notice essentially divests the OMSL of its contractual rights to collect levies from ocean-going vessels around the ports of Lagos.

In a letter dated October 30, 2019 and addressed to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, sighted by our correspondent on Sunday, the OMSL asked the NPA to rescind its decision on the Marine Notice immediately.
   

   
The seven-page letter signed by its Chairman, Capt Idahosa Okunbo, read in part, “With the current financial situation of the country, the OMSL believes everything possible should be done to avoid a situation where government is faced with the burden of another judgment debt running into several billions of naira with interest.

“This may arise from a possible suit filed by the OMS challenging the said Marine Notice.”

The probe by the Senate followed allegations that the OMSL had since 2014 provided security at the Lagos ports, charging fees from vessels without regard to the NPA which has the responsibility by the Ports Act of 1954. Punch

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