3rd December, 2010
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Temisan Omatseye, the Director of Finance, Bulama Jarma Ago and the Director of Procurement, Shehu Kabir, have been released.
The trio were arrested over a petition sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, by NIMASA Board Chairman, Senator Baba Tella, over alleged misappropriation of N1.5 billion belonging to the agency. Omatseye and the two directors were grilled for several hours at the EFCC’s office in Ikoyi, Lagos before they were whisked away to Abuja for further interrogation, but they were released the next day.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) has called for caution in the handling of the affair in order not to destabilise the nationâ€™s already fragile maritime industry. The position of ISAN was articulated in a one-page statement signed by the Director General, Ms. Funmi Folorunso.
â€œThe industry stakeholders are watching with keen interest the recent developments in NIMASA. They are particular about activities that will create an unstable atmosphere within the Nigeria shipping industry.
“ISAN was shocked to hear in the news of the arrest of the DG of NIMASA and his colleagues, whom we believe to have been diligently working towards the advancement of the Nigeria shipping industry.
“ISAN has the utmost confidence that the law agencies will conduct whatever investigation is required with the highest degree of fairness and professionalism. It hereby strongly advises the government and relevant stakeholders to always take into account the fragile state of the industry and the need to consolidate on the gains achieved so far,â€ the statement added.
Meanwhile, the management of NIMASA has assured stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime sector that the on-going investigation over a petition against the management of the agency has not affected operations.
NIMASA’s Head, Public Relations, Ms. Ego Nwokocha, in a statement said: â€œStaff reported promptly as usual to their duty posts and the system is still functioning optimally. Officials from the Maritime Guard Command Unit have continued the patrol of Nigerian territorial waters in the continuous quest to combat armed robbery and piracy on our waters.
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