September 19, (THEWILL) – The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has expressed astonishment and outrage over the recent revelation that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), sold 82 vehicles for the sum of N5.8 million over the past 12 years in a gross violation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and other relevant laws and regulations.
According to human rights group, this is a clear case of economic sabotage, corruption, and abuse of public trust that must not go unpunished.
This was made known through a statement made available to newsmen by the National Co-ordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.
Onwubiko condemned in strong terms the manner in which NIMASA disposed of public assets without due process, transparency, accountability, and fair value.
He revealed that the vehicles, which were mostly in good condition and serviceable, were sold at ridiculously low prices to some officials and staff of the agency in a pre-arranged insider trading scheme.
While indicating that the proceeds of the sales were not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account as required by law, but rather paid into NIMASA’s coffers by the auctioneers who were hired to rubber stamp the fictitious transactions.
The rights group stressed that it is shocked and disappointed that the NIMASA Executive Director, Mr Chudi Offodile, who appeared before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the disposal of public property by the agencies between 2010 and 2022, could not provide any documentary evidence to justify his claim that the sale followed due process.
While indicating that he also admitted that he was not aware of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, which is a serious oversight for someone in his position.
The group commended the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee, chaired by Hon. Julius Ihonbvere, for exposing this scandal and demanding for more documents and evidence from NIMASA and other agencies involved in the sale of public assets.
“We urge the committee to be thorough, diligent, and impartial in its inquiry and report its findings to the House and the public. We also urge the committee to resist any attempt to use this as a bait to collect bribes and bury the matter, but rather ensure that this matter is logically concluded and culprits jailed.”
Comrade Onwubiko, therefore, called on President Bola Tinubu to intervene in this matter and order a full-scale investigation by the anti-corruption agencies into the activities of NIMASA and other agencies that have been accused of selling public assets without due process.
They also call on the President to review his appointments and ensure that they reflect merit, competence, diversity, and federal character, as he promised Nigerians during his campaign.
“We remind the president that his mantra of “Renewed Hope” is fast fading away, as Nigerians are becoming disillusioned by his nepotistic and lopsided appointments that favour his ethnic group and region.
“HURIWA is committed to promoting human rights, democracy, good governance, and accountability in Nigeria. We will continue to monitor this issue and other issues that affect the public interest and welfare of Nigerians. We will not hesitate to speak out against any injustice, oppression, or corruption in our country. We call on all Nigerians to join us in this struggle for a better Nigeria.”