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The Norwegian Nigeria Scam - Hauk

In 2008, the government of Norway decided to phase out a range of Navy vessels that had been in service since the late 1970s. The disposal of the six Hawk class MTB (KNM "Terne", KNM "ducks", KNM "Geir", KNM "Falk", KNM "Jo" and KNM Tjeldbergodden started after the phasing of the vessels in 2008. Disposal orders were given in January 2009. As the boats had been modernized in 2002 at a cost of a billion krone, Norwegian authorities decided the vessels should be sold rather than scrapped to recoup some of the cost. The first vessel put up for sale was the KNM Horten in 2008.

In 2009, six ‘Hauk’ class Missile Torpedo Boats (MTBs) – small and fast vessels with a range of potential uses – were added to the list. The MTBs soon received a number of bids, according to a later Norwegian Parliamentary inquiry. However, as the boats were still classed as military vehicles, it appears that potential buyers were turned down by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presumably because they could not meet strict Norwegian export controls that arms exports should not violate arms embargos or be used in active or imminent conflict situations.

Aftenposten reported on 30 July 2010 that the sale of "Horten" together with MTBs of the Hauk class to Egypt was finalized and assessed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs's Disarmament, Non-Proliferation Section and export control. This sale did not go well when the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to sell decked vessels (MTBs, which were to be sold together with "Horten") to Egypt (a country outside NATO) was not acceptable. Instead, it was announced on October 17, 2010 that a bid of 40.5 million from Cyprus was accepted and that this sale would be alright. However, this sale was also not completed.

Norwegian authorities hit on the idea of ‘demilitarizing’ the boats. This was done largely by filing off gun emplacements. On 23 January 2012, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the vessels were no longer considered military vehicles, and thus fell outside of country’s arms export control regime. On 13 February, following a few months of negotiation, CAS-Global signed a contract with the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation (also referred to in Norway by its acronym FLO), for the purchase of 6 ‘demilitarised MTB’s Hauk Class.’ The price for each ship was £450 000, for a total cost of £2.7m, which included spare parts.

In the company's end user statement it was confirmed that the vessels would operate with fisheries supervision in Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS region). The vessels were to be registered under the UK's Flag, be manned with European crew and be subject to the United Kingdom's jurisdiction. It was carried out by the vessels of the representatives for CAS Global, including Nigerian nationals, and it was at that time publicly known that CAS Global also had offices outside the UK, among other things in Nigeria. On 20 August 2012 FLO issued a "Bill of Sale" on the sale of the six MTB's to CAS Global. The MTBs were declared exit point to England April 22, 2013. The first three MTBs were brought by their crew from CAS Global and sailed over to England, while the last three were loaded at a larger vessels carrying them from Norway.

In February 2012, the UK company CAS-Global purchased 6 Hauk Missile Torpedo Boats (MTBs) for £2.7m from the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation (known in Norway by its acronym FLO). In the summer of 2014, CAS-Global’s purchases became front-page news in Norway. Investigative journalists at the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet revealed that the boats had turned up in Nigeria, as part of the fleet of Nigerian company Global West Vessel Specialist (GWVS). Global West was controlled by, amongst others, the former Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, who was a close ally of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

On May 2, 2015 Norwegian Defence Chief, Haakon Bruun-Hansen, an admiral, apologised to the country’s lawmakers for the sale of a fleet of a decommissioned naval ships and combats boats to a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo. Ekpemupolo was the leader of one of the several militias in the Niger Delta region that led a devastating campaign of violence against the Nigerian state for several years until he was awarded a multi-billion pipeline protection contract by the out-going Goodluck Jonathan administration as part of an amnesty deal with ex-combatants. After giving up fighting, surrendering his arms, and leading his men to hand over their weapons, Tompolo in 2012 received at least six decommissioned Norwegian warhips, the Norwegian newspaper Daglabet, found in December 2014. Among them were six fast-speed Hauk-class guided missile boats, now re-armed with new weapons.

Ekpemupolo runs Global West Vessel Service, which handles maritime security issues for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. After the deal became public in December 2014, the Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, claimed the vessels were purchased as part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy. He said the Navy has rearmed the vessels to enable it effectively carried out its anti-piracy patrol.

“As an arm of the government responsible for maritime safety, security and regulations amongst others, we work in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant security agencies to use their men and arms to patrol and provide safety of the country’s water ways, as mandated by the global body, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)."

The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on December 15, 2015 instituted a Criminal charge against Tompolo and nine others over allegations of fraud at Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). However, despite substituted service of the Court Summons effected on him, Tompolo refused to appear in Court. Justice I. N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on February 19, 2016 made an order attaching Tompolo’s properties for failure to appear to answer the charges against him. Justice Buba issued a warrant of arrest against him. Armed with the Warrant of Arrest, the Commission launched a manhunt for him, but could not effect his arrest.

Three Norwegian civil servants were charged with corruption in connection with the deal, as well as two British businessmen who were accused of bribing a Norwegian official. Earlier in May 2017, one of them, Bjørn Stavrum, was sentenced to five years in prison, following accusations that Cas-Global paid him $154,000 to help secure the deal.

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Page last modified: 28-11-2018 18:23:18 ZULU