- Yusuf Oketola
The House of Representatives’ ad-hoc committee on the disposal of public property by government agencies between 2010 and 2022 has unravel the extent of illegal auctioning of public property, non-remittance of revenue realised into Consolidated Revenue Fund has expressed anger at the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for justifying the sale of 82 vehicles for the sum of N5.8 million in the last 12 years.
Chairman of the committee and House leader, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo) made the position of the investigative panel known at the weekend.
Ihonvbere, who was shocked at the discovery expressed surprise that most of the vehicles displayed in the document presented to the ad-hoc committee did not indicate show that the vehicles were old or in poor condition saying, “Looking at them (pictures of vehicles captured in the documents), some of them are looking new and for Nigerians, a 13-year-old Toyota Hilux is not old.”
He expressed concern over the rationale behind the placement of an advert on the 29th of March 2022 calling for a public auction of NIMASA vehicles and the sale of all the vehicles on the 30th of March 2022 through forced liquidation/auction.
According to him, the action of NIMASA “Leaves us with the impression that it is a pre-arrangement,” insisting that the process of the sale of the vehicles contravened the extant Public Procurement Act to dispose of public assets within the duration of 24 hours.
Ihonbvere also disclosed that the ad-hoc committee was in the custody of petitions against NIMASA that the vehicles were sold to some officials and staff of the agency, as according to him, “The auctioneers engaged by NIMASA were merely hired to rubber stamp the fictitious insider trading”.
Consequently, the ad hoc committee requested for list of all the auctioneers as well as beneficiaries of the vehicles, the original cost of vehicles and invoices, letter of contract awards for auctioning of the assets to the auctioneers; relevant approvals obtained from the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing as well as Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
The committee equally requested for the registers of all the assets of NIMASA and other MDAs.
Earlier, one of the NIMASA Executive Directors, Mr. Chudi Offodile who represented the organisation at the investigative hearing submitted that due process was followed in the sale of the vehicles.
He also denied knowledge of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 on the remittance of the funds generated from the sale of public assets, however affirmed that the proceeds of sales were paid by the Auctioneers into NIMASA’s coffers.
When asked whether the agency has a mechanic workshop where faulty vehicles can be repaired, Mr. Offodile answered in the negative.
The vehicles sold as contained in the documents presented to the ad hoc committee showed that a Peugeot Expert Ambulance with market value of N200,000 was sold at forced liquidation/auction value of N95,000; a Honda Civic Saloon Car with a market value of N170,000 was sold at N76,500; Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with market value of N300,000 was sold at N140,000; another Toyota Hilux (Accidental) with market value of N200,000 was sold at N96,000 while another Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with market value of N250,000 was sold at N115,000.
Also, two units of Toyota Hilux, which were at the time of inspection in the custody of Cabotage Consultant in Lagos put at N1 million market value, were sold at N470,000 each forced liquidation/auction value; Honda Civic put at N210,000 was sold at N95,000; Honda City put at N190,000 market value was sold at N80,000; among others.
In the Abuja office NIMASA, a Toyota Hilux put at N500,000 market value was sold at N245,000; a Toyota Avensis put at N300,000 market value was sold at N145,000; a Toyota Corolla put at N300,000 market value was sold at N147,000; two units of Honda Civic put at N90,000 market value were sold at N30,000 each; among others.