The Senate, yesterday, alleged that a company offering illegal security services at the safe anchorage area in the Lagos ports, OMLS Limited, had diverted N263.89 billion.

Consequently, it 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.

The Senate said that it was only Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy and Maritime police that have statutory responsibility for providing security in the Nigeria’s territorial waters.

The Chamber also pointed out that security of anchorage area in the Lagos ports where ships anchor prior to berthing at any of the ports is statutory responsibility of the above agencies only.

It said that the probe was hinged on its discovery that OMSL Limited had since 2014, carried out provision of security of the Lagos ports safe anchorage area on fees from vessels without regard to the Nigerian Ports Authority which has the responsibility by the Ports Act of 1954.

The Senate made these resolutions following a motion presented on the matter by Senator Thompson George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East).

In his lead debate, Sekibo alleged that OMSL Limited charged every ship that anchored within the Safe Area $2,500 on the first day of anchorage and $1,500 on every subsequent day for the period any ship stayed at the anchorage area.

He said that it took between 28 to 30 days for ships that anchor at the Safe Anchorage Area to exit and that every ship that anchored at Safe Area paid as much as $46,500 for making use of the anchorage area within the period.

He noted that information from the NPA showed that about 1,666 ships called at the Lagos Port per quarter and 55 per cent of this number stayed at the Safe Anchorage Area to allow time for free space to berth at any of the ports, totalling 916 ships.

Sekibo also pointed out that a rough calculation estimated the number of ships that stayed at the safe Anchorage Area in a year to about 3,665 ships.

“OMSL Limited has alleged that the Nigerian Navy had a Memorandum of Understanding with them in this illegal Operation. OMSL Limited in connivance with other security agencies are collecting a whooping sum of $133.28 million or N47.98 billion every year from 2014, meaning that over $733.04 or N263.89 billion have been collected by OMSL limited and its collaborators,” Sekibo said.

Supporting the motion, Senator James Manager (Delta South), described the illegal security activities of OMLS Limited as fraudulent and urged the Senate not to relent in its probe.

The Senate directed the committees assigned to carry out the investigation to complete its work and report to the Chamber in four weeks.