House Probes Legality of FG Agencies, Deep Blue Contract Agreement

The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to engage, identify and interrogate the constitutionality of the federal government agencies.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu.

Moving the motion, Okechukwu said the constitution made provisions for items of the Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual lists which spells out the responsibility of the federal, state and local government.

Those provisions, according to him, are made to encourage efficiency in the assignments given to all the tiers of government.

He said: “The welfare of the Nigerian people is the duty and responsibility of the government and that the House is concerned that some off the responsibility might be ill-assigned. In situation where things are not working in line with the constitution, the parliament has the responsibility to intervene and ensure efficiency. I move that the House resolves to set up an ad hoc committee to engage stakeholders on issues regarding housing, primary healthcare and other related matters.”

Also at the plenary, the lawmakers, while adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Benjamin Kalu, mandated its Committee on Navy to investigate the legality of the Deep Blue Contract agreement to know whether it is in line with extant laws and regulations.

The committee will also ascertain the standards of all platforms purchased to the Nigerian Navy and determine whether they are according to the actual amount of money spent by the government on the contract and any other matter relating to it.

Kalu had while moving the motion noted that on July 27, 2017, the Federal Ministry of Transportation on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, entered into a contract (the Deep Blue Contract) of $195,300,000 (N59,839,930,000) with a foreign private company, HLS International Limited (HLSI), for the supply of certain security and surveillance equipment and systems, and also for establishing the Integrated National Coastal Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solutions with command and control of infrastructure in the country’s territorial waters.

He also noted that in addition to the contract sum of $195,300,000, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) agreed to pay the sum of $19,530,000 to HLSI as Management Training Consideration and according to Appendix 4 of the agreement, both sums would be paid in monthly instalments, over a period of 36 months from July 2017 until June 2020, as further payments were also made as at July 2017 to date.

The lawmaker said the House was aware that the National Assembly has neither authorised nor appropriated any monies for the Deep Blue Contract or any monthly expenditure according to the foregoing payment schedule.

Kalu recalled that the Deep Blue Contract has since its execution, attracted public outcry regarding the grave national security implications of ceding the patrol of waterways from the statutory duties of the Navy to a private foreign firm, thereby undermining national sovereignty and security, following which President Muhammadu Buhari terminated the contract in 2018.

He expressed concerns that despite the foregoing, the Deep Blue Contract has remained illicitly financed with monies neither appropriated nor authorised by the National Assembly.

Adopting the motion, the lawmakers gave the committee eight weeks to report back for further legislative action.

(THISDAY)