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Bank staff says Metuh ran 5 accounts, as court varies bail conditions

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  • Keppel and BG Win LNG Bunkering Gig in Singapore

An official of Diamond Bank Plc, Eno-Mfon Effiong, yesterday, told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that the National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, who is facing trial over alleged N400 million fraud, ran five separate accounts with the bank. Effiong, who told the court that she was the account officer to Metuh’s firm, Destra Investment Limited, explained that the company already had a balance of N6,676,576 in its account, prior to the date the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, credited it with N400 million on November 24, 2014.

The witness, who testified as the PW-3 yesterday, said she was not surprised by “the credit inflows” into the account, 0040437573, considering that both Metuh and his firm were regarded by the bank as “high network customers.”

She explained that high network customers were those that have high credit inflow into their accounts, saying “this is usually because the person is either a captain of industry, a high earning individual or an established businessman.”

Effiong told the court that she had been managing Destra’s account since it was opened on February 10, 2013.

Meanwhile, a move by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Sylvanus Tahir to tender the bank account details and correspondence between Diamond Bank and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, pertaining to the financial status of the firm, was opposed by Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN).

Etiaba complained that some of the documents did not fulfill the provisions of the Evidence Act as they were not tendered through those that made them.

However, Justice Okon Abang dismissed the objection, stressing that the said error did not affect the probative value or weight of the evidence contained in the document.

Consequently, the court admitted the letters EFCC wrote to Diamond Bank, the bank’s response and a Certificate of Identification, dated January 11, 2015, signed by one Matilda Obigho of Compliance Department of the bank, into evidence.

Also, application for variation of the bail conditions, imposed on Metuh January 19, was moved in court yesterday by Mr. Etiaba.

He pleaded with the court to vary some of the terms, especially the aspect that made it mandatory that his sureties must own landed properties at the Maitama district of Abuja.

Delivering his bench ruling yesterday, Justice Abang said he was minded to exercise his discretion in favour of the defendant.

Consequently, the court modified the bail conditions and held that the proposed sureties should be owners of verifiable landed properties in any district of the Federal Capital Territory.

The court, however, refused to cancel the aspect of the conditions that gave EFCC the nod to verify and confirm that Metuh has fulfilled the bail conditions.

Meanwhile, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has selected Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (Keppel O&M), through its wholly-owned subsidiary KS Investments Pte Ltd (KSI), and BG Group plc (BG Group) to supply Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) bunker to vessels in the Port of Singapore.

The awarding of the licence is in line with the Port of Singapore’s plans to launch the LNG Bunkering Pilot Programme in 2017.

With the granting of the licence, Keppel O&M and BG Group will work on forming a 50-50 joint venture to deliver an end-to-end bunkering solution using LNG sourced from BG Group and leveraging Keppel O&M’s expertise in LNG vessel servicing.

“Singapore is one of the world’s most important strategic ports and we are excited about the prospect of supplying LNG as a fuel for ships in this key market, with first delivery expected in 2017. LNG produces considerably lower emissions than conventional marine fuel and can significantly reduce a vessel’s environmental impact,”  says Steve Hill, Executive Vice President, Global Energy Marketing and Shipping, BG Group.

The new venture builds on BG Group’s existing role as the exclusive aggregator for Singapore’s first 3 million tonnes per annum of LNG demand. Following the start of commercial operations at Singapore LNG Corporation’s LNG terminal in May 2013, BG Group has to date delivered 72 cargoes into Singapore from its global LNG portfolio

“Together with Keppel’s years of experience and expertise in servicing vessels including gas carriers, we will be able to provide strong support to MPA in its goal to develop Singapore into a key LNG bunkering hub in Asia. As the shipping industry’s demand for green solutions continues to rise, we will also be able to help meet the needs for sustainable shipping with our growing LNG solutions, such as tug designs with dual-fuel diesel LNG engines and the retrofitting of vessel engines to run on LNG,” said Chow Yew Yuen, Chief Executive Officer, Keppel O&M.

Vanguard with additional report from World Maritime News

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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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