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5 killed as Customs, rice smugglers clash in Ogun

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  • As NDLEA discovers cocaine in sweets wraps, arrests two suspects

Five people were reportedly dead on Sunday evening, following a bloodly clash between officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and smugglers in Oke-Odan area in Yewa South Local Government Area of the state.

he incident, Lagos Metro gathered happened when the Customs officers were said to be pursuing some suspected smugglers with two trucks loaded with rice through Igolo, a border town between Nigeria and Benin Republic.

It was learnt that the trucks were impounded by the Customs officers and were been driven to their Idi-Iroko office, when the smugglers ambushed them.

The Customs officers were alleged to have opened fire on the suspected smugglers which led to the death of a couple, two children and a male adult.

The couple were said to have been hit by a stray bullet inside their house in the area.
Several people were said to have sustained varying degrees of injuries as a result of the clash.
However, the Public Relations Officers of the NCS and Police, Usman Abubakar and Muyiwa Adejobi, respectively, said only two lives were lost.

Abubakar explained that three Customs officers sustained injuries while three checkpoints were razed down.
He said, “ Two people have been confirmed dead. Our officers were attacked by smugglers on their way to Idi-Iroko office after seizing two  vehicles loaded with rice at Ajilete.

“These smugglers carried guns,  cutlasses, axe,  broken bottles and  stoned our officers with  a view to recovering their vehicles with the contraband and injured three officers.

“We had to call for reinforcement of military and police before we could escape from the smugglers,  they burnt down three of our check points.”

Adejobi equally said that only two casualities were reported to the police and that the alleged mastermind of the incident identified as Okegbenro had been arrested.

In the meantime, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has discovered one hundred and ninety-three (193) wraps of cocaine inside packs of sweets at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.

The whitish substance concealed in sweets tested positive for cocaine and weighed 3.230kgs. Anti-narcotics officials discovered the drugs in the luggage of a twenty-four year-old female passenger from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A suspected member of the drug cartel was also arrested.

NDLEA commander at the Lagos Airport, Mr. Ahmadu Garba said that the suspect who hails from Edo State was found in possession of the drug while a suspected member of the drug cartel in Lagos was successfully traced and apprehended.

“One Igbainoba Uche Rose, who concealed 3.230kgs inside sweets was apprehended at the arrival hall during inward screening of passengers. A suspected member of the cartel, Ofor Kamsochukwu Chimezie was arrested on a follow-up operation. The suspects are being investigated,” Garba stated.

During interrogation, Rose said that she works as a clerical officer after her secondary school. “I work as a clerical staff after I completed my primary school because there was no money to further my studies. I have suffered hardship in life, but a man offered to assist me establish my personal business. He promised to pay me half a million Naira. This was how I got involved in this problem” Rose said.

Chairman and Chief Executive of NDLEA, Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah warned drug traffickers to desist from their criminal acts. “Drug criminals should shun their unlawful act because the Agency has perfected strategies to detect narcotics notwithstanding how cleverly they were concealed. Recent drug seizures clearly reflect the reformation of the NDLEA as an intelligence-led organization. We are determined to trace major traffickers behind the scene and prosecute the barons” Abdallah warned.

The NDLEA Chairman assured Nigerians that no drug trafficker will go unpunished. In his words, “we are working hard to perfect the practice of aggressive follow-up on every case from the first to the last person behind every case of drug trafficking. Drug barons shall have no escape route. This way, drug trafficking will either be drastically reduced or completely eliminated from our society”.

Tribune with additional report from Upshot

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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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