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APC Overturns Buhari, Says AIT, Media Houses Free to Cover Him

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In a move aimed at limiting the damage caused by the ban imposed on African Independent Television (AIT) from covering the activities of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari by his media team, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has stated that all accredited media organisations in the country, including AIT, are free to cover the activities of the president-elect.

Buhari came under harsh criticism when his media team on Monday banned a television crew from AIT from covering the visit by the Cuban envoy to him in Abuja, citing security and ethical standards raised by his family.

Several sections of the public saw the action as a throwback to Buhari’s military dictatorship in the 1980s when he gagged the press and threw journalists into prison.

During his campaign for the presidency, Buhari refused to apologise for his promulgation of Decree 4, the draconian military law, which gave him the power to gag the press during his 20-month reign as military head of state.

But in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the incoming Buhari administration would not discriminate against any media organisation, irrespective of its role during the electioneering leading up to the recent polls.

The party, however, enjoined all media organisations to observe the highest level of professional standards in carrying out their duties.
“There is a code of ethics guiding the practice of journalism in Nigeria, and this demands every journalist to ensure a strict adherence to the highest levels of ethics and professionalism in carrying out their duties.

“There must be repercussions within the realms of the law for media organisations which have wantonly breached the code of ethics of the journalism profession and turn themselves to partisans instead of professionals.
“But such repercussions will not include barring any accredited media organisation from covering the activities of the president-elect,” APC said.

Despite APC’s reversal of the ban imposed on AIT, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described as unacceptable the directive by the President-elect, to bar the television house from covering his activities, saying the suppression of the media under any guise portends danger for the nation’s democracy.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement, said  after carefully studying the defence posited by General Buhari’s campaign spokesperson as well as the smokescreen provided by the APC to cover and mitigate Buhari’s anti-media posture, the PDP and indeed all lovers of democracy are persuaded that the action was not only unjustifiable, but unconstitutional and completely against the spirit of liberty and the rule of law in a democracy.

He said: “The PDP as a party that has nurtured the nation’s democracy in the past 16 years cannot afford to fold its hands and watch the constitutional rights, media freedom and personal liberty of Nigerians, the basic tenets of democracy, being demolished.
“We ask, is this a beginning of the feared erosion of the freedom and personal liberty the media and Nigerian citizens have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP-led administration?

“Has our dear nation finally fallen into the clutches of totalitarianism and impunity where government actions will be based on egocentric decisions and impulses of individuals rather than the rule of law?

“While we assure the president-elect of our resolve to run a mature and responsible opposition based on issues, we are disturbed by this emerging development and reassure the Nigerian people that we will continue to stand with them on issues of democracy and freedom at all times.

“Perhaps, we need to remind General Buhari that part of the challenge of his new position, even as president-elect, is that he has lost his private life which is now subject to public scrutiny and media interrogation, as required of the custodian of the mandate of the Nigerian people.

“The PDP is not oblivious of the background of the president-elect especially as it relates to the freedom of the media, but we had thought that having declared to being a converted democrat, he would make himself amenable to the basic principles of democracy by following the due process of the law on any circumstance.

“General Buhari may also wish to be reminded that the Nigerian constitution upon which provisions he emerged president-elect, also gives the media powers to cover activities of public office holders while at the same time providing legal avenues for redress in the event of any violation.

“If the rights of the president-elect was in anyway violated by AIT or any media house for that matter, he is expected to act within the law and seek redress in the courts, otherwise, one would have no option than to conclude that he is out for personal vendetta.
“The APC and the president-elect may have one or two lessons to pick from President Goodluck Jonathan, who though the most maligned and abused president in the history of our nation, even by the APC, allowed his actions to be sufficiently guided by humility, tolerance and the rule of law.”

The party called on Nigerians not to despair but remain steadfast and unite in resisting any anti-democratic tendencies aimed at instilling fear in them and set the stage for a dictatorial order and the erosion of their personal freedom and liberty as citizens, “which they have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP”.

Also, a human rights group, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), strongly condemned Buhari’s action over the plan to resuscitate the anti-democratic ethos in a democratic setting, stating that his action had shown that the president-elect has a hidden agenda in governance of this country for the next four years.

In a statement by the Executive Chairman of the rights group, Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, CHRSJ recommended that Buhari should be tutored on governance in a democratic era, adding that democracy is new in the president-elect’s dictionary and strange to his nature because of his military dictatorship background.

It stressed that the freedom of press was one of the ground norms of entrenching democracy in the world and urged genuine pro-democracy Nigerians to stand up to be ready to defend the current democratic experiment before anti-democratic forces return the country to the dark days of the military era where the freedom of expression was withdrawn through draconian decrees of 1984.

The group said Buhari had goofed with the decision to ban the respected media station from covering his activities till further notice, describing the banning of AIT by the president-elect as undemocratic, illegal, evil, ungodly, anti-masses and anti-development.

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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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