Wieringerwerf-based company TP Marine intensifies its ties with the Nigerian navy. After providing it with catamarans and refitting its large patrol boats, TP Marine and the navy early this June signed an agreement for the construction of a ship building facility in the port of Lagos.
Chief of Naval Staff Colonel Ibrahim noted the importance of the deal for the Nigerian military: “It will make us self-sufficient in the construction and maintenance of our fleet. Also, other countries will use the facility thereby bringing in the needed foreign exchange to run the economy.” The site will be used for shipbuilding, repairs and maintenance of vessels. The navy would provide the land for the facility, while TP Marine would finance the whole project.
The deal was negotiated by Amid Sadeh, an Israeli businessman. He has been active in Nigeria for years, is known for his contacts with high officials and has been involved in several other arms deals. This included a highly controversial 260 million dollar deal with Aeronautics Defense Systems, for drones to be used in the Niger Delta (Aeronautics is also the company that the Dutch military hired in 2008 to provide drones for intelligence gathering in Uruzgan).
Furthermore Sadeh brokered the sale of used Ukrainian planes to Nigeria as well as the sale of two Israeli Shaldaq patrol boats for 25 million dollar, more than double the cost of these ships. According to Israeli daily Haaretz “the Nigerians later claimed they were promised new boats, but instead received used ones from the Israeli navy surplus that had been upgraded.” Sadeh’s dubious past in arms deals apparently didn’t stand in the way of concluding the agreement for TP Marine.
The relationship between TP Marine and the Nigerian Navy started in 2009, with the sale of 20 high-speed troop-carrying catamarans for 4.8 million euros. These K38 vessels “can provide covert striking power against critical targets, as well as protecting off-shore resources and assets.” And according to TP Marine they are “ideally suited for rapid response, amphibious deployment of commando’s or regular patrol work”. Security expert Daniel Volman wrote the catamarans were acquired to “transport soldiers up the creeks and small rivers of the Delta region.”
In response to parliamentary questions, the Dutch government shamelessly named the protection of the interests of Shell in Nigeria as one of the main reasons for allowing the controversial export. Shell’s tight grip on the Nigerian authorities, with Shell employees present at all relevant departments, was disclosed by last year’s Wikileaks publications of US diplomatic cables.
Milieudefensie (Dutch Friends of the Earth) has been campaigning against Shell activities in Nigeria for years. And according to Amnesty International in its Annual Report 2011 “pollution and environmental damage caused by the oil industry continued to have a serious impact on people living in the Niger Delta.”
Amnesty further notes: “The security forces, including the military, continued to commit human rights violations in the Niger Delta, including extrajudicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment, and destruction of homes.” Human Rights Watch wrote in May this year: “Government security forces are widely implicated in serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture. The ruling elite has squandered and siphoned off the nation’s tremendous oil revenues, while neglecting basic health and education services for the vast majority of ordinary citizens.”
The Dutch government didn’t see the ongoing violence and human rights violations in the Niger Delta as good enough reasons to stop the 2009 export. Nor does TP Marine consider its expanding business with the Nigerian navy a problem. On its website the company says it “has taken on an assignment for the refit of 6 large patrol boats of the Nigerian Navy.” This refit took place after TP Marine moved from IJmuiden to Wieringerwerf in August 2010.
The new deal is yet another worrying step. In supporting the Nigerian navy to be able to build and maintain its own vessels, TP Marine gives it carte blanche to use their facilities for an increase in the internal repression in the interest of the ruling elite and the big oil companies.
[MA, 16 July 2011]