The House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on Disposal of Public Property headed by Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere (APC; Edo) is investigating illegal auctioning activities by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). The investigation of the agency is coming in the course of the Committee’s probe into public property disposal by several government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Railway Corporation, among others between 2010 and 2022. Before embarking on recess in July 2023, the House had resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate allegations of fictitious, inflated and questionable contract awards and mismanagement of funds by NIMASA.
On September 15, during an investigative hearing of the ad-hoc Committee on allegations of illegal auctioning of public property and non-remittance of revenue realised into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account by NIMASA, the Committee questioned the giveaway prices at which the agency auctioned 82 of its vehicles in relation to their declared market values. All 82 cars were auctioned for a total sum of N5.8 million, well below their stipulated market values.
Members of the Committee also requested for documentary evidence of remittance of proceeds of the auction into the CRF account as required by the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and other applicable financial regulations. An Executive Director at NIMASA, Chudi Offodile who was present at the hearing, denied knowledge of the requirement for auction proceeds to be paid into the CRF account and stated that the revenue generated was paid to the account of the agency by the auctioneers.
The Chairman of the Committee expressed concern over an advert placement by for the public auction of the 82 vehicles belonging to NIMASA and the subsequent sale of all the vehicles a day after the advert was placed, an occurrence he described as giving the impression of a pre-arrangement. He also disclosed that the Committee was in receipt of petitions against NIMASA, alleging that the vehicles were sold to staff of the agency. According to him, the auctioneers engaged by the agency in the said auction appear to have been hired to ‘rubber stamp’ insider trading activities.
The Committee requested a list of all the auctioneers and beneficiaries of the vehicles, evidence of contract awards to the auctioneers, relevant approvals, register of the agency’s assets, among other documents to guide it in the course of its investigation.