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CCT convicts Orubebe for false asset declaration

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  •  As Buhari pegs 2017 Budget at N6.866trn

Former Niger Delta Minister Godsday Orubebe has been convicted by Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for violating the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCBTA).

The tribunal, in a judgment delivered by its Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, found Orubebe guilty of falsely declaring his assets in 2007.

The tribunal said the prosecution successfully proved its case that the former minister  deliberately refused to declare his ownership of of Plot 2057 Asokoro District, Abuja.

It faulted Orubebe’s defence that he had sold the plot of land to former landlord and Managing Director of Givention Properties Limited, Akinwumi Ajibola in 2011 at N10 million and deployed the proceed to paying his rent.

The tribunal said that after  analysed all the testimonies given by Orubebe, it was difficult to understand why the property he claimed to have sold about six years ago still remained registered in his name at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Land Administration.

Umar said in his ruling: “To the tribunal, this is very absurd and not credible. The tribunal observed that under the Lands Instrument Registration Law, the DW1 (Ajibola) was under obligation to register/document his right over Plot 2057.

“The consequences of non-compliance with statutory requirement, where a statute clearly provides for a particular act to be performed, the failure to perform the act, on the part of the party, will not only be interpreted as a delinquent conduct, but will be interpreted as not complying with the statutory provision.

“In such a situation, even where the statute did not specifically provide for a sanction, the court can, by the invocation of its imperative jurisdiction, come to the conclusion that the failure to comply with the statutory provision is against the party in default.

“In the circumstances therefore, there is nothing to show that the accused had divested his right over Plot 2057 Asokoro to DW1 and his company, Divention Properties Ltd.

“The deed of assignment and the power of Attorney executed by the accused to DW1 on the 13th of June 2011 and no steps taken since then to register the title with the Land Administration Department in the name of DW1, renders the documents as worthless as a tissue of paper under the Land Instrument Registration Law.

“The tribunal is satisfied with the prosecution that, up till now, it is the name of the accused person that is in the FCT Land Registry as the owner of the property, not DW1/Divention Properties Ltd.

“The tribunal hereby adjudge the accused guilty as charged, and on that premise, hands down the following punishment: In accordance with Section 23 of the CCB/T Act, as incorporated under the Fifth Schedule to the 1999  Constitution (as amended), the property known as Plot 2057, which belong to the defendant, is hereby seized and forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Orubebe was  initially arraigned on on November 9, 2015 on a four-count charge, in which he was accused of failing to declare the Asokoro land and accepting bribe.

After some delay, the prosecution, led by then Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Muhammad Diri, amended the charge, reducing the counts to one, excluding the aspect that relates to bribery.

The single count  read: “That you, Godsday Peter Orubebe, on or about June 29, 2011, while being a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable tribunal, did make a false declaration of assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau when you failed to declare Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja on assumption of office on September 26, 2007 and on leaving office (at the end of your tenure) on June 29, 2011 and you hereby commit an offence contrary to section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) of the same Act.”

Orubebe was re-arraigned on the amended charge (marked: CCT/ABJ/02/2015) on March 8, 20176.

The prosecution opened trial on April 7 by calling its sole witness, Samuel Madojemu, an official of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and closed its case on April 24.

Orubebe conducted his defence on June 2, by calling two witnesses including himself. The other defence witness was Ajibola, who described himself as a lawyer and Managing Director of Givention Properties Limited.

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday,  forwarded  the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, MTEF & FSP to the National Assembly for approval as he projected a total budget of N6,866,335,052,740 for 2017.

In a letter dated Friday, September 30, 2016, personally signed by the President and addressed separately to both the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, Buhari said with the submission of the fiscal documents, the preparation for next year’s budget was in progress.

Of the N6.866 trillion proposed 2017 budget, the government would spend N1.765 trillion as capital expenditure, N2.563 recurrent (non-debt expenditure) and N1.639 trillion for debt service, even as N350 billion had been budgeted for recurrent social intervention programme in 2017. The figure for 2017 is N805 billion more than the 2016 budget.

The Federal Government projected a revenue of N4,169,172,496.951, which, is N314 billion above that of 2016. Planned aggregate expenditure is  estimated to exceed the provision of N6.06 trillion in the 2016 budget by 13.3 percent (or about N806 billion).

In the document sent to both chambers of the National Assembly, yesterday, the president put the oil benchmark at $42.50 per barrel, against $38 for 2016, and Average Exchange Rate of N290 to the US Dollar as against proposed N197 in 2016.

The documents also indicated that the Federal Government has projected oil production  at 2.2 million barrels per day, just as it said that of the projected N3.855.74 trillion revenue target in 2016, only N951.52 billion had been retained as of June.

It attributed the shortfall to under-performance of non-oil sources independent revenues and Federal Government’s share in company income tax (CIT) collections which were less than N646.32 billion and N271.76 billion projected, respectively.

To achieve the proposed 2017 budget, the government said it would improve revenue mobilisation from non-oil sectors, promote transparency and accountability, pursue sustainable debt management, intensify economic diversification, enhance infrastructure for increased productivity and development, improve governance as well as pursue social development programme.

The government plans to raise the revenue from the following sources: shared oil revenue of N1.3 trillion; N14.111 billion share of dividend from Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG); N1.064 trillion from mineral and mining; non-oil revenue of N1.508 trillion; N902.8 billion company income tax; N282.2 billion value added tax; N277.5 billion from customs and N45.9 billion as government share from federation account.

Other projected sources of funding the budget are N1.207 trillion independent revenue; N6.549 billion as government share of actual balance in special accounts; N9.086 billion as Federal Government’s balances in special levies accounts and N50 billion unspent balance of previous fiscal year.

Also, the MTEF retained 2.2 million barrel per day production of crude oil, and Statutory Transfer is pegged at N370,697,683,756, while N1,639,171,596,716 was projected for debt service.

Nation 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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