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AGF orders EFCC to probe Kashamu’s firm

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  • As Saraki begs judge to deliver judgement on the alleged N2bn bribe challenging his trial

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami,  has ordered an investigation into the role of a firm belonging to Senator Buruji Kashamu, Kasmal International Services Limited, in the  alleged controversial consultancy agreement over the collection of stamp duties.

A statement by the AGF’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Salihu Isah, on Wednesday  said Malami asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in a March 4, 2016 letter, to investigate the case and turn in its report within three weeks.

Kasmal International Services Limited was said to have entered the consultancy agreement with the Nigerian Postal Service on  collection of stamp duties from banks and other financial institutions.

The AGF said the controversial agreement led the company  to waive all commercial banks and financial institutions remittances from 2004 till January 1, 2016,  which NIPOST was entitled to  collected under Section 89 of the  Stamp Duties Act.

Kasmal, within the same period, allegedly granted a waiver to all banks and financial institutions from remitting the N20 penalty on every unpaid remittances of N50 as prescribed by the Stamp Duties Act.

The AGF, in his letter signed on his behalf by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the  Federation, Mr. Mohammed Diri, said the acting Postmaster General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Postal Service, Mr. Enoch Ade Ogun, had confessed that there was no  Memorandum of Understanding between NIPOST and the firm stating any terms of engagement.

The AGF said without any formal contract between Kashamu’s company  and NIPOST, the firm went ahead to grant  a waiver to all commercial banks and financial institutions from making the stamp duty remittances.

However,  lawyer for  Kashamu’s company, Ajibola Oluyede, labelled  the AGF’s move  illegal.

Oluyede  said  the AG’s directive  was  a clear criminal contempt of the Federal High Court which had on February 24,  2016 in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/100/2016 made an order restraining the AGF and the EFCC “from interfering in a purely contractual relationship between KASMAL and NIPOST.”

“We  have no doubt that right-minded observers will see the injustice in the move by the AGF’s office to deprive KASMAL of the fruits of its efforts. We will bring this unlawful abuse of office to the attention of the court at its next sitting on this matter on the April 17, 2016.

In the meantime, embattled Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, begged Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to go ahead and deliver judgement on the suit challenging his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

This came on a day the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, distanced itself from the decision of Justice Kafarati to decline ruling in the fundamental human rights enforcement case brought before him by Senate President.

Justice Kafarati had on Tuesday, disqualified himself from the matter which was originally scheduled for judgement, owing to bribery allegation levelled against him by two online media outlets. However, Saraki, yesterday, said he was dissatisfied that the judge was blackmailed by his enemies to hands off the suit that was ripe for judgement.

In a protest letter, dated March 22, which he filed before the Chief Judge of the High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, Saraki, through his lawyer, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, insisted that though he had sympathy for the judge, the interest of justice would only be served if the judgement was delivered. Oluyede, while speaking with journalists after the submission of the letter to the Chief Judge, yesterday, alleged that EFCC was the brain behind the publications which he said were intended to intimidate the judge.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has distanced itself from the decision by Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to decline ruling in the fundamental human rights enforcement case brought before him by Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Spokesman of the agency, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said last night that the commission had no idea of the source of the information as it did not give out same at any time.

Punch with additional report from Vanguard

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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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