President Muhammadu Buhari has terminated the appointment of Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi as director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, confirmed this in a statement issued on Thursday.
“The termination of Akpobolokemi’s appointment takes immediate effect,” the statement read.
“He is to hand over the management of NIMASA and all government property in his possession to the most senior officer in the agency who will remain in charge until a new director-general is appointed.”
Although, the presidency did not state the reason for the sack, it is believed to be connected with the involvement of NIMASA in the award of pipeline surveillance contracts to ex-militants and militia groups.
Before his exit, former president, Goodluck Jonathan renewed the contracts worth about N9 billion but President Muhammadu Buhari, who is obviously not comfortable with the arrangement, revoked the contracts.
Jonathan appointed Akpobolokemi for a tenure of four years in 2010 and renewed his appointment in 2014.
Until he presided over the maritime agency, Akpobolokemi was a lecturer at the Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island in Bayelsa state.
The agency courted several controversies under his watch. One of such was the allegation of NIMASA awarding illegal contracts running into billions of naira to Global West Vessel Service, a company allegedly owned by Government Ekpemupolo, an ex-militant leader, popularly known as Tompolo.
Though he admitted being close to Tompolo, Akpobolokemi denied the allegations.
When asked to clarify his relationship with Tompolo at a press conference in Lagos in December 2014, Akpobolokemi expressed displeasure.
“I don’t think it is fair for anybody to ask me: ‘Why is this person your friend or brother?’ You should rather query God on why He created someone my brother,” he had said.
“Tompolo and I are Ijaws from the Niger-Delta and God created it so. It is not me that created myself and it is not me that created the other person.
“I have known so many persons for over 30 years. So whether I am DG today or would not be DG tomorrow, some of the friends I grew up with would continue to be my friends.”
In the build-up to the general election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) accused NIMASA of sponsoring hate campaign against Buhari, then the flagbearer of the party.