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$2.1bn arms scam: Buhari may release Dasuki from detention soon

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  •  May divert N350bn Recovered from Looters for Budget Funding

After being detained for close to one year, there were indications last night that President Muhammadu Buhari is no longer comfortable with the continued detention of former National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).

A top aide of Buhari, who dropped the hint in Abuja, said Buhari had already given instructions to the relevant organs handling Dasuki’s corruption case to take steps to recover the huge cash allegedly mismanaged by him and set him free.

“I can tell you that the President is not comfortable with the continued detention of Dasuki despite the offences he allegedly committed against Nigeria and its people,” the aide said. “The only condition Mr. President has asked Dasuki to fulfil is to refund the huge sum of public funds which were allegedly diverted under his watch as the NSA.

“And I want to tell you that we have the approval of Mr. President to release him (Dasuki) from detention as soon as he brings the money,” the official said.

Answering a question, the source explained that there was no truth in the claim that Buhari was interested in keeping Dasuki in detention as long as possible to settle some scores. “I can tell you that it was Mr. President, who even asked us the other day why the former NSA was still being kept in detention and we told him that the three cases he had in court were responsible for the incarceration.

“He then said we have to take necessary steps to recover the money Dasuki is said to have mismanaged and allow him to return to his house,” the security aide quoted Buhari as saying.

Answering a question on the arrests of seven judges in relation to corrupt practices, the source asked rhetorically “If the judges were not taken in by DSS, who then has more authority to do so? “Look, let me tell you that none of the existing Nigerian security agencies is more qualified to do what we did at the weekend because tackling corruption is a crucial step to ensuring the security and well being of the people.

“As you may or may not know, we are under oath to prevent the commission of heinous crimes, including looting of public funds, that may cause untold security problems for the generality of Nigerians. “And let it be known to all Nigerians that we have no fear of anyone over what we did because it was done in the overall national interest of Nigeria,” the top official explained.

It will be recalled that apart from the charges preferred against Dasuki over the alleged diversion of $2.1 billion meant for the acquisition of arms for battling the Boko Haram insurgents, the former NSA also faces two other charges in the FCT High Court. However, in an apparent bid to resolve the matter, the Federal Government last week, moved to consolidate all the charges against Dasuki, a move hailed by legal luminaries as a means of quickening the prolonged trial.
In the meantime, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo Monday said N350bn recovered from treasury looters would be made available for the funding of this year’s budget.

Osinbajo who assured that the federal government was working hard to revamp the economy during the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit held in Abuja said government would inject more money into the economy to address the economic recession.

He also said that apart from the N350 billion, more money recovered from looters would be injected into the economy.

He disclosed that government was expecting $700million from the United States and Switzerland.

According to him, $400 million would come from the US while $300 million is expected from Switzerland.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has restated the need to diversify the economy to ensure that the country does not depend on oil.

Declaring the Summit open with the theme ‘Made in Nigeria’, Buhari said that diversifying the economy will make it possible for Nigerians to have food, textiles and other commodities of their own instead of importing them.

He said, “Initiative and incentives that will enhance ‘Made in Nigeria’ are already being put in place by this administration, and I encourage more local production to improve the ease of doing business in our environment, transfer our technology and innovative capabilities, improve quality and standards, promote exports and change our old attitude and behaviour”.

Vanguard with additional report from Shipping Day

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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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