Despite the explanations provided by the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the procurement of seven gunboats by an ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, for the maritime agency, the House of Representatives on Thursday expressed concern over the development.
The House said it was not comfortable with the way and manner in which a private coastal security company owned by Tompolo procured the seven gunboats recently.
The House spokesman, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, told journalists that the development was fearsome, thus propelling the lower chamber to consider the probe of the purchase of the military hardware by the ex-militant on resumption in January 2015.
“This is a cause for concern. We have gotten certain systems wrong in the country. The development is scary and worrisome. We thought such procurements are handled by the navy.
“On resumption, the relevant House committees will look into it to know the facts of the matter.
“The individual (Tompolo) was paid to protect our waterways, but the irony is that we still have a lot of leakages. The House of Representatives faulted that contract but our reservations were buried in sentiments,” Mohammed said.
The Chief of Training and Operations of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Austin Oyagha, at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday said reports that Tompolo had acquired gunboats, initially misreported as warships, were untrue.
He explained that the said gunboats belonged to NIMASA and were being manned by personnel of the Nigerian Navy from the maritime component of the service, in consonance with a pact between the agency and the navy.