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ANLCA: Shittu Heads East, To Eliminate Operational Challenges

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  • As Boko Haram in the North, burns children, kills 86 in Borno attacks

National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu last week headed East, on a working tour of the Eastern Zone chapters, in an aim of tackling unfolding operational challenges, affecting ANCLA members.

The visit became necessary, sequel to increasing complaints that the federal operations unit (FOU, Zone C) – with headquarters in Owerri – Imo State, was arbitrarily intercepting and impounding their containers, even after being released and exited from the ports. Aside from the challenges associated with form ‘M’ and SONCAP, in addition to increasing rate of  extortion, particularly by gate officers insisting on reexamination of containers at the exit gate.

Accompanied by the National Executive Committee (NEC), including the Board of Trustee (BOT), chairman, Chief Henry Njoku, the ANLCA Arrowhead swooped on Onne and Port Harcourt, to first fully understand the specifics creating the bottlenecks, before paying  a scheduled courtesy visit to the Customs Area Comptroller of Onne Command, Comptroller Babani, whom the chapter leader, Kingsley Offor had earlier praised, for fostering cordiality, between officers and Customs brokers.

Shittu, who was more concerned with honest declarations, warned that the association would not defend or protect sharp practices,  and also stressed the need for proper understanding of the tariffs, positing that this remains the most effective way to ensure enduring peace.

Meanwhile, Comptroller Babani has anchored his continuing cordial relationship with operators, on conditions that agents desist from practices like duplication of Bills of Lading, abandoning unutilized PAAR, revenue leakages; even as he advised that they stop commercializing their agencies, as this could result into profiling of their licenses, with an attendant recommendation to the Headquarters, Abuja for non – renewal of such defaulting licenses.

Babani also decried the non – payment of issued Demand Notices (DN), which could automatically lead to blockage of further assessment Notices and, ultimately the license/agency.

“I’m happy we enjoy a cordial relationship. But to sustain this cordial working relationship in the command, the (Onne) Chapter Executive must assist in educating its membership to see Customs Officers as their partners, in generating requisite revenue for the Federal Government in these times of economic depression in Nigeria”.

Comptroller Babani was later inducted as a honorary member of ANLCA by the National President, with a decoration of ANLCA lapel/broach.

In his visit to Port Harcourt, he met  Comptroller Olanrewaju, who though only took over the administration of the command, a week earlier, pledged to entrench a good working relationship, in so far as the body would assist in concretely, attracting cargo to the area.

He believes the agents should channel their efforts continuously to make Port Harcourt Seaport become traders/importers port of Destination; affirming that from his experience in TinCan Port, PTML and the
MMIAirport, all in Lagos area, he has come to appreciate the stabilizing power of ANLCA, as reliable partners in progress.

He also visited the FOU command and was indicated to have had very fruitful discussions.

In the meantime, terror group, Boko Haram, was alleged to have burnt some children to death when the militants overran Dalori, a village four kilometres outside Maiduguri, where about 80 residents of the community were killed on Saturday night.

The Area Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency in Borno State, Mohammed Kanar, said 86 bodies were picked up in the village on Sunday.

Hospital sources added that no fewer than 70 persons were receiving treatment in hospitals around the area.

A resident who managed to escape the attack, claimed that screams of children could be heard from burning houses as the embattled villagers ran in confusion to exit the village as the destruction raged.

Also, a survivor, who said he hid on a tree, stated that he watched Boko Haram extremists firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, AP reports.

On Sunday, while some residents had managed to return to their houses which had been razed, one of our correspondents observed that some burnt bodies and others, riddled with bullets, littered the streets and some burnt houses in the town.

One of those who had returned to the village on Sunday told one of our correspondents that insurgents including suicide bombers attacked the town, which also spilled over to the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps around the village.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added that the suicide bombers mingled with fleeing villagers and detonated the explosives on them at the neighbouring Gamori village, killing several of the villagers.

The villagers told newsmen on Sunday that troops did not arrive in time to stop the rampaging sect fighters from unleashing maximum havoc on the community.

Military authorities confirmed that one of the places targeted by the insurgents was the Dalori Internally Displaced Persons’ camp housing over 15,000 people, who are mostly women and children from Bama.

A member of the youth vigilance group in the town, who spoke on condition of anonymity to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Sunday, said not less than 65 persons were killed with over 100 others injured in the attack on Dalori.

One of the residents of the community, who fled to Maiduguri, Yusuf Ibrahim, told one of our correspondents that the attack on the village started around 6.50pm and lasted for hours.

He lamented that the insurgents, who operated undeterred, stormed the village in Hilux vans and motorcycles dressed in army camouflage and set the houses in the village ablaze.

He said livestock were not spared as the insurgents set them on fire but looted foodstuffs.

A rescue worker, who participated in the evacuation of the victims, said 50 corpses were taken to the Borno State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri and 15 others corpses deposited at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

Narrating his ordeal, a resident of the village, Mallam Abba Dalori, told The PUNCH, “We were helpless as no one came to our aid when the insurgents struck on Saturday night. I am still mourning as I lost 11 persons in the siege. At present, I am still looking for five of my children, who went missing during the attack.”

Another resident of Dalori, Imam Ibrahim, who could not hold back his tears as he spoke to one of our correspondents, said the insurgents “dressed like military personnel and opened fire on everybody.’’

He added, ‘‘All our wives and children were brutally killed; our livestock were equally consumed in a great inferno that engulfed the village.”

A statement, the spokesman for the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Mustapha Anka, while confirming the attack, however, failed to give the casualty figure.

The statement added, “In their desperate efforts for attacks on strong, determined and committed members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and innocent citizens yesterday (Saturday), 30 January, 2016, Boko Haram terrorists (insurgents) launched an attack on Dalori through Yale from (rear of Dalori village).

“An eyewitness said that the insurgents who came in two Golf cars, motorcycles, started opening fire and burning houses. Their motive was to cause rancour and penetrate the crowd with suicide bombers.

“Similarly, while people were running for their dear lives to Gomari Kerkeri village, three female suicide bombers attempted to make their way into the crowd but were intercepted and subsequently got blown off.

“During the incident, lives were lost while some people sustained injuries. The insurgents also attempted to penetrate Dalori IDP camp, but the attempt was resisted by troops, which resulted into the detonation of IEDs by suicide bombers.”

Anka added that the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Hassan Umaru, had sent a condolence message to the District Head of Dalori, Alhaji Lawal Bashir, and the residents over the unfortunate incident.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said having lost the war to the nation’s armed forces, insurgents were desperately seeking ways of returning to wreak havoc on the society.

Buhari therefore called on all Nigerians, especially those who resided in areas previously ravaged by terrorists, to be more vigilant and ready to work with security operatives in ending the war against insurgency.

This was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Sunday.

Buhari said this while reacting to the spate of suicide bombings in Chibok market, Dolari Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Borno State and the Gombi market in Adamawa State.

He stated that the insurgents’ gradual return was meant to embarrass his government, pointing out that that was why they chose isolated communities and markets as their targets.

Buhari said the insurgents had suffered immensely from the sustained bombardments of their camps and hideouts by the Nigerian military and had resorted to using desperate measures to gain cheap media attention.

The President added, “Having lost the war, they (the insurgents) are seeking ways and means to gradually find their way back into society.

“They are not returning to contribute but to cause more havoc. They are so desperate to embarrass the government and the people that they have no qualms attacking isolated communities and markets.”

Buhari noted that the materials for the Improvised Explosive Devices were locally sourced by the insurgents.

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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