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158 Freed Boko Haram Abductees Reunited with Their Families

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One hundred and fifty-eight women and children abducted by the dreaded Boko Haram sect who were freed last month have been reunited with their families in Yobe State.

The women and children were abducted in Katarko town, Gujba Local Government Area in Yobe, a distance of 22 kilometres south of Damaturu, the state capital, sometime last year.

However, after they were released by the insurgents in January, they were taken by security agencies for psychological evaluation and debriefing before their eventual release to the Yobe State Government.

Presenting the victims to their families, the Chairman of the state Committee on Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Insurgency Victims, Mr. Ahmed Goneri, said the 158 victims comprised 62 adults, while 96 are children and were abducted late last year after an attack carried out by the insurgents in Katarko town.

Of the 62 adults, according to him, 15 are now widows because of the attack on the town. He said that the abductees are “today being handed over to their families”.
The chairman said the adults would be given two bags of rice, sugar, cartons of noodles and a bag of salt as well as two sets of wrappers.

He also revealed that those who lost their husbands in the attack would be given N50,000 as support, while others would be given N30,000, noting that the monies would help them restart their lives after the attack.
He expressed his gratitude to the state government for the gesture and thanked the security agencies for all the measures taken towards ensuring that the abductees were safe and healthy.

Chairman of Gujba Local Government, Alhaji Kyari Batarama, also expressed his appreciation for the support from various quarters towards the recovery of those abducted and called for sustained security measures towards liberating the towns currently under the control of the insurgents so that law abiding citizens could return to their homes.

Mallam Abdulrahaman Dauda, who discovered the released detainees in Kasaisa village on the outskirts of Damaturu, explained that they were traumatised when he found them.

He added: “Thank God that they have been reunited with their families and I hope others will also be released by the abductors.
“These are wives of some people who God has rescued from the hands of the Boko Haram militants. A friend saw them in Kasaisa village and called to tell me.

“So I used a truck to convey all of them and handed them over to security agents for further verification. I thank the security agencies and the Yobe State Government for all their support.

“When I saw them they all had psychological issues having gone through severe trauma after being held hostage for three weeks.”
The abductees, who narrated their ordeal, expressed sadness over their abduction and captivity for three weeks. They also spoke of their gratitude to all those who had assisted them in ensuring that they could start life afresh.

Hauwa Mohammed, one of the abducted women, said: “They did not maltreat us during our captivity for three weeks. We had enough food and drink all through our stay in captivity. Any time they entered where we were held to preach their ideology to us, they asked us to avoid looking at them.

“They called us pagans and when they were releasing us, they asked us to prepare to join other pagans in the town. We thank God that we are reunited with our families after three weeks in captivity.”

Gambo Mohammed, another of the abducted women, said: “We told them we will not practise their style of religion. So they agreed to release us, saying we should go and join the pagans who have the symbol of the green-white-green flag in Nigeria, vowing that they will meet with us one day. But we then told them we would rather join the pagans instead.

“They often provided raw food items to us and we cooked them ourselves. They gave us soap, perfume and any other basic needs you can think of. It’s only God that released us from the hands of this dreaded militants.”

The voluntary release of these detainees was the first since the insurgency started in the North-east six years ago.
Meanwhile, a committee set up by the federal government to look into allegations of human trafficking and rape at the internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps yesterday, stated that there was no concrete evidence yet to substantiate the claims.

Speaking at a meeting with the stakeholders of IDP camps in Maiduguri, the chairperson of the committee, Mrs. Bilikis Mohammed Abdullahi, said in the two camps visited so far, there was no conclusive evidence yet that such criminal acts had taken place.

Abdullahi, a Deputy Director in the Directorate of State Security (DSS), revealed that membership of the committee was drawn from the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Red Cross, the media, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ministry of Justice and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), among others, adding that the inquiry into the allegations should not be seen as an indictment on the Borno State Government.

Instead, she said it was an indictment on all the stakeholders in the management of the camps including the police, DSS and NEMA, which are all agencies of the federal government.

She was of the view that if the abuses had occurred, “it was unfortunate that they happened under our watch,” calling on all the agencies to come together to put a stop to it.

Abdullahi, who said the committee had been able to visit just two camps in Maiduguri, promised that all other camps would be visited, revealing that there were allegations that two girls might have been raped.

She however said it was still an allegation as far as the committee was concerned “until we can proved the incidents actually happened”.
She revealed that one of the girls had been handed over to medical experts to ascertain the veracity of the claim.
The Chairman of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Grema Terab, said: “As the custodian of the camps, we will never know of a case of rape and not go all out to prosecute it.

“It was a surprise to hear that there were cases of rape in our camps. We will carry out our investigations and take appropriate actions.”
He averred that it would be difficult for girls or women to be raped in the camps, as the refugees live in dormitories and there was no secluded places at the camps, adding that the camps are well manned by security personnel.
He however assured the committee that the allegations would be thoroughly investigated.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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