The All Progressive Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation has accused the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency of orchestrating hate campaigns against the party’s presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, and his family, through recent documentaries aired by AIT and the Nigerian Television Authority.
The APC said on Thursday it was in possession of evidence linking a top management staff of the maritime agency to campaigns against Mr. Buhari.
The campaign’s Director of Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the office has confirmed that the agency was indeed the sponsor of all the “dirty campaigns” propagating hate messages against Mr. Buhari on the two television stations and several other media platforms.
According to Mr. Shehu, the act contravenes the NIMASA Act, the Public Service Regulations, and the Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2010 as amended, among others.
The APC criticised a situation whereby a government agency uses public funds to sponsor a campaign of calumny against the APC candidate, saying it was not only illegal, but should also be condemned and investigated by the joint committees of the National Assembly on Marine Transportation.
“It is a well-known fact that the Director General of the Agency, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, was President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide and a well-known ex-militant’s errand boy. He was appointed in NIMASA for the sole aim of satisfying an ex-militant’s camp, an assignment he has carried out well to the satisfaction of those who put him there through the award of a concessionaire phantom PPP project, the party said.
“Under this contract, a certain company, (Global West Vessels Specialists Ltd) was handed the legal responsibility of the Nigerian Navy (NN), of protecting the nation’s waterway and NIMASA’s Maritime Security function to the surprise of all industry observers, yet fail woefully in offering the necessary protection for the theft of Nigerian crude oil, which has only increased since then among other sea related crimes,” the statement said.
The APC decried the “increasing helplessness” of regulatory agencies charged with the responsibility of certifying commercial advertising, adding that they are now being ignored by the ruling PDP in placing libellous and defamatory campaign materials against the opposition in TV stations they control.
The statement said President Goodluck Jonathan should prove to Nigerians his sincerity and commitment to the rule of law by taking immediate action against the NIMASA boss over this apparent abuse of office.
“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,” Mr. Shehu said.
However, Deputy Director/Head Public Relations, NIMASA, Isichie Osamgbi, in his reaction dismissed the accusations as blatant lies against the organization, saying the allegations were deliberately misleading, as NIMASA did not want to be drawn into politics in any manner.
According to Mr. Osamgbi, NIMASA, as an agency, and its Director General, Ziakede 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,” Mr. Osamgbi said.
“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,” he added.