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4 gunmen, 2 troops dead in attack on Indian air base

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… As Ex-President Jonathan’s appointee, PDP members defect to APC

 Indian troops killed four gunmen who had entered an Indian air force base near the border with Pakistan and exchanged fire with security forces on Saturday, officials and news reports said. At least two Indian soldiers were also killed in the ongoing violence.

At least one helicopter could be seen later in the day firing at an area inside the Pathankot air force base. Shots could also be heard from inside the base. No other details were available and phone calls to Defense Ministry and air force officials went unanswered.

Air force spokeswoman Rochelle D’Silva said earlier Saturday that at least four gunmen entered the living quarters of the base, about 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi, but were unable to penetrate the area with fighter helicopters and other equipment.

Press Trust of India news agency quoted police as saying that four attackers were killed following an hourslong gunbattle, and that police started an operation to clear a wider area of other possible intruders.

Pathankot, in Punjab state, is on the highway that connects India’s insurgency-wracked Jammu and Kashmir state with the rest of the country. It’s also very close to India’s border with rival Pakistan.

Police were investigating whether the militants came from the Indian portion of Kashmir or from Pakistan. Rebels routinely stage attacks in Indian-held Kashmir, where they’ve been fighting since 1989 for an independent Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

 

Saturday’s attack comes just a week after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit to Pakistan to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The visit was seen as a potential sign of thawing relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. The two heads of government also had an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmir’s insurgents, a charge Islamabad denies. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the violence in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters Saturday that India wants peace with Pakistan, but “if there is any kind of terror attack on India, we will give it a fitting reply.”

In July, gunmen staged a similar attack at a police station and a moving bus near Gurdaspur, a border town in India’s Punjab state. The three attackers then killed four policemen and three civilians before being shot dead by security forces.

Meanwhile, an appointee of former President Goodluck Jonathan from Ondo State, Mr. Oluremi Akinbobola, and some other members of the Peoples Democratic Party in Idanre Local Government Area of the state, have defected to the All Progressives Congress.

This came barely one week after the former senator that represented Ondo Central Senatorial District, Mr. Ayo Akinyelure, and the Director of the Technical Aids Corps, Dr. Pius Osunyikanmi, also defected to the APC.

At the event which took place in Idanre town, Akinbobola, who was appointed by the former President as a Federal Commissioner in the National Population Commission, said he and other former members of the PDP decided to defect in order to join President Muhammadu Buhari in moving the country forward.

According to him, it is important to join the train of change in the country and be a part of the government that is poised to change the fortunes of the masses.

He said, “We want to ensure that we join hands with our leaders in the local government and in Nigeria at large. The National Vice Chairman of APC is our brother in Idanre, so we have to join hands with him.

“And we also want to join hands to ensure that we join the President to move this country forward, as a federal commissioner, even though I was not appointed by this present administration.

“I have seen what the President has been doing since he came into power, especially his plan for 2016 to curb corruption and ensure that our youths are gainfully employed.”

Welcoming the defectors, the National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Pius Akinyelure, urged them to be loyal to the party and to continue preaching the gospel of the APC and the change agenda to the people of the state.

Earlier in his address, the chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, said the APC had become a big party in the state.

He expressed confidence that the party would win the next governorship election in the state, while giving assurance that the party would conduct a transparent primary.

“Under my leadership, there will be transparent primaries for people who vie to be governor of the state,” he said.

MSN with additional report from Punch

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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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