By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
LAGOS — General Muhammadu Buhari (ret), yesterday, called on the National Assembly to investigate the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, following what he alleged as incontrovertible evidence linking the agency to the hate campaign against him and his family.
Buhari’s demand, articulated through the All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Campaign Organisation, APCPCO, was upon what he claimed as clear evidence linking a top management staff of NIMASA to recent documentaries aired by NTA and AIT that were considered by the party to have impugned the character of the APC presidential candidate.
NIMASA in a sharp reaction denied the allegation, saying neither the agency nor its Director General, Dr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, has been involved in the sponsorship of political campaigns.
The APCPCO’s Director of Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the campaign office had confirmed that the agency was indeed the sponsor of all the dirty campaigns against the APC presidential candidate on AIT, NTA and several other media platforms.
This, according to Shehu, contravenes the NIMASA Act, the Public Service Regulations, and the INEC Act 2010 as amended, among others.
The APCPCO decried the situation where a government agency uses public funds to sponsor a campaign of calumny against its candidate, which it said is not only illegal, but should also be condemned and investigated by the Joint Committees of the National Assembly on Marine Transportation.
If these claims were to be found to be true by the Joint Committee, the statement said, disciplinary action should be taken against the agency and its leadership.
Noting the relationship between a very senior official of NIMASA with a famed former militant alleged to have helped procure vessels for the agency, APCPCO decried the increasing helplessness of regulatory agencies in the country, charged with the certification of commercial advertising, that are now being ignored by the PDP in placing libellous and defamatory campaign materials against the opposition in TV stations they control.
According to the statement, President Goodluck Jonathan should prove to Nigerians that he is sincerely committed to the rule of law by taking immediate action against the NIMASA boss.
“It is not enough for President Jonathan to claim he doesn’t know the sponsors of smear adverts if he lacks the courage to punish them once they are exposed,” Shehu said.
It’s not true—NIMASA
NIMASA in its reaction articulated by its Deputy Director/Head of Public Relations, Isichei Osamgbi said: “The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), as an agency, and its Director General, Dr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi have never been involved in any form of campaign against any politician nor sponsor same.
“It is unfortunate that the authors of that statement and their agents are only attempting yet again without success to discredit the agency, having failed in doing so through the malicious lies on the purchase of the operational vessels and attempt to discredit NIMASA success story which is currently training over 2,500 young Nigerians as seafarers.
“We are only a government agency doing our normal statutory duties as a maritime regulatory agency and proud of our achievements which have been globally acclaimed.”
Buhari undertakes short UK trip
Meanwhile, Buhari left Abuja, yesterday, on a short working visit to the United Kingdom. In the course of this visit, Buhari is expected to hold meetings with key members of the British political establishment and interact with some global institutions with stakeholder interest in the affairs of Nigeria.
He would hopefully give a talk at the prestigious foreign policy hub, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House in London.