ON the surface, it sounds quite reasonable: the Nigerian National Assembly is set to approve the procurement of an ocean vessel by the Nigeria Navy for about 10 billion naira. But on closer examination, it appears the
devil is in the details of what ordinarily appears to be geared towards strengthening Nigeria’s maritime power.
The vessel in question, an oceanographic survey vessel used by naval authorities for investigative duties such as submarine and mine detection, along with weapon trailing, was once intended for the Kenyan Navy who backed out of a deal to procure the same vessel for about 8.4 billion naira in 2003.
A company supposedly based in Spain and contracted to supply the vessel to Kenya in August 2005, Euromarine, allegedly inflated the cost, causing the Kenyans to end the business deal.
The Kenyan authorities also found out that Euromarine was no stranger to Kenya, as the company was linked to Anglo-Leasing Finance, another company already indicted by the country’s Auditor-General Office allegedly for shady business practices.
Investigative journalists found out that Anglo-Leasing finance, owned by one Deepak Kamani, was indicted in a report published by Kenya’s Controller & Auditor-General for widespread fraud of non-delivery and overpricing on single-sourced security contracts.
Euromarine, a company whose address could not be found in Spain where it claimed to be domiciled, is linked to a Sri Lankan tycoon, Anura Pereira, who has been severally investigated and indicted of corruption in Kenya.
Kenyan military sources who requested anonymity for making unauthorized statements stated that “The vessel has our name and our shield on it, but it is not ours. There are some important questions that need to be answered."
Built by Euromarine for the Kenyan Navy and codenamed KNS Jasiri, the vessel has become a subject of litigation at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, UNCITRAL.
KNS Jasiri has been docked at a shipyard in Spain since 2005 rusting away with most of its parts now dysfunctional.
In February 2008, Euromarine wrote to the Head of Kenyan Public Service, Francis Muthaura complaining that the Government was stalling on payment and threatening to sell the Vessel.
Investigations revealed that when talks broke down between the Kenyan government and Euromarine without headway at the arbitration Court over the fate of the Vessel, some unknown middlemen brokered a deal with some Nigerian officials at the Ministry of Defense offering “juicy cuts.”
According to defense sources in Nigeria, the deal is aimed at pressuring the Ministry to acquire the abandoned Vessel for N10 Billion, a cost far more that what Kenya agreed to pay in 2003 when it signed the initial contract.
Investigation in Spain where the Vessel has been docked since completion in 2005 revealed that the vessel has a problem with Z-drive lower unit gear, major rusts underneath it, rusting exhaust pipes and that parts of the hull does no fulfill military requirements for a research vessel, according to an expert who spoke to investigative journalists on a condition of anonymity.
“Much of the equipment on board is outdated and not functioning any more, it is full of rust and other possible defects as the vessel has not been operating since it was manufactured in 2005,” said another source in Spain.
Military analyst hinted that an additional $25 Million by the Nigerian Navy to fix the disused vessel and equip it with more modern gadgets than the ones currently installed. All these, according to sources, will take nothing less than 18 months to refurbish the 7 year-old vessel.