Poaching War: Navy arrests 6 vessels, 28 Chinese, 3 Ghanaians, 48 others

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  • As ASUU gives govt. six new conditions to end strike

The Nigerian Navy has arrested six vessels, comprising of two tanker vessels and four fishing trawlers with 79 crew members on-board for various maritime offences.

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Sylvanus Abbah who indicated this at the command’s headquarters in Lagos, said the Command was simply carrying Ibok Ibas instructions to rid the environment of criminals to the letters.

“In line with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ibas’ directives to rid Nigeria’s maritime environment of criminals, personnel of the WNC while on routine patrol arrested two tanker vessels and four fishing trawlers for various maritime related offences.

“On July 2, at about 11:30 pm, MT DA-CHRIS was intercepted and boarded by naval personnel on routine patrol.

“Upon boarding, the vessel was discovered to be imballast.

“This raised further doubt on the activities of the vessel and prompted further investigation to ascertain the vessel’s dealings at sea,’’ he said.

Abba said the ship’s Automatic Identification System was found to be constantly off, constituting a navigational and safety offence.

“During the investigation, it was discovered that the vessel was operating with invalid documents.

“Again, on July 20 at about 05:48 am, our personnel sighted MV SISI COMFORT 1 lurking around ABO oilfield,’’ he said.

Abbah said that the captain of the ship during interrogation earlier identified the vessel as ALPHA SIERRA.

“Investigation revealed that vessel had about 34, 000 litres of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) in its storage tank, which they claimed they pumped from their bunker tank to the storage tank to balance the ship which was taking in water from its rudder.

“The vessel was asked to produce documents, which they were unable to, and this raised suspicion on the activities of the vessel within the oilfield,’’ he said.

Abbah further stated that naval personnel, on Aug. 27 while on routine patrol, also intercepted and arrested four fishing trawlers.

“The four trawlers were arrested fishing in prohibited areas with catches totaling 154,280kg and several kilograms of loose fish.

“At the time of arrest, the vessel had a total of 79 crew members, comprising of 28 Chinese nationals – seven on board each vessel -, three Ghanaians and 48 Nigerians.

“On interrogation, it was discovered that the vessels were not listed on the July to August bi-monthly edition of the navy code word for fishing/trawling vessel at sea,’’ he said.

The FOC said that vessels that could not produce relevant operating documents as requested were clear indication of their being engaged in Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Nigerian waters.

“The four fishing trawlers are being handed over to the Federal Department of Fisheries.

“The two other vessels are being handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) respectively for further investigation and possible prosecution,’’ he said.

Abbah reiterated that the navy, in its renewed efforts to curb maritime domain of illegalities, would not tolerate any fraudulent activities in the nation’s maritime environment.

“The command has zero tolerance for every form of criminality in its area of responsibility and advises defaulters to desist from such act or face the wrath of the law,’’ Abbah warned.

In the  meantime, university teachers have presented six new conditions for calling off their two-week old strike.

But the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, yesterday pleaded with the lecturers to embrace peace for the sake of innocent students.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) is to discuss today the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and chart the way forward.

Some of the options include:

  • bringing back ASUU to the negotiation table;
  • allowing the Wale Babalakin Panel to conclude its assignment;
  • suing ASUU to either the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) or the National Industrial Court (NIC); and
  • referring all issues to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in line with the Trade Dispute law.

According to a source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, the six conditions were not part of the previous demands  referred to the Babalakin Committee for arbitration.

The new conditions are that:

  • the Federal Government should immediately  accept payment of shortfall in salaries of universities;
  • universities to manage their IGR the way they like and exemption from TSA;
  • exemption of Endowment Funds, JV cash from TSA;
  • payment of University Salary Scale to teachers in primary schools in universities;
  • release/implementation of guidelines for the retirement of Professors in line with 2009 FG-ASUU Agreement; and
  • waiver/ government fiat to set up Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company

The source said: “ASUU has brought proposals different from the agreement they reached in the Senate with the Federal Ministry of Education.

“They are asking the government to take over the shortfall in the salaries of universities when there were glaring cases of abuse of recruitment process and non-compliance with Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS).

“They want the government to accept liability for the shortfall in spite of the fact that universities acted arbitrarily in increasing their wage bill.

“The lecturers have also asked the government to manage their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) henceforth instead of remitting such to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in line with their demand for autonomy for universities.”

But, according to the source, the government does not want to waive the TSA policy for universities. It, however,  expressed readiness to exempt Endowment Funds and Joint Ventures Funds from TSA.

“In their new demands, the lecturers asked for the issuance of a fiat to the Pension Commission to register the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company.

“PENCOM has expressed its readiness to register Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company, if ASUU and other stakeholders can quickly address the lapses already highlighted in the registration process. PENCOM is insisting that the guidelines in the 2005 Pension Reforms Act must be fully complied with,” the source said.

The government is said to be shocked by ASUU’s fresh request that the Federal Government should pay University Salary Scale to primary school teachers in varsity staff schools.

Additional report from Nation