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CCT: Senators resume rivalry over Saraki



•He must resign —SUF •No, he won’t —Melaye

Senators loyal to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and his opponents resumed their rivalry at the weekend, with opposing camps strategising on the way forward.

 The renewal of activities was a follow-up to the ruling of the Supreme Court, on Friday, which ordered the trial of the Senate President over allegation of false asset declaration.

 Spokesman of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF), loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kabiru Marafa, said on Sunday that the ruling of the Supreme Court should pave the way for Saraki to resign.

 But a member of the Pro-Saraki group, the Senators of Like Minds, Senator Dino Melaye, said on Sunday that the SUF was talking rubbish.

 The Supreme Court had, on Friday, said Saraki should face trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which is prosecuting him over a 13-count charge of alleged false asset declaration.

 Spokesman of the SUF said Saraki had become a liability, adding that the Senate President should take the path of honour by resigning from his position.

 According to Senator Marafa, it had become a moral burden for Saraki to preside over the Senate, because of the gravity of the offence.

 The senator, in a statement made available to Senate correspondents, said Saraki needed to save the Red chamber of the moral burden by resigning his position.

 The SUF, led by Senator Ahmad Lawal, APC’s preferred candidate for the Senate top job, had been engaging Saraki in running battle for the seat since he emerged Senate President on June 9, 2015.

 The group had filed a suit in court, challenging his emergence using an allegedly forged Senate rule book.

 Marafa said in his statement that though the law presumes Saraki to be innocent until proven guilty, he should resign “before he is disgraced out.”

 He added:  “What’s happening at the Code of Conduct Tribunal has nothing to do with the Unity Forum; it’s between him and the State. And country’s law says he’s presumed innocent until proven to otherwise.

“By reason of omission or commission, Saraki has pushed himself to a position of disadvantage. By moving from one court to the other, up to the Supreme and got himself knocked out, what it portrays is that the Senate under Saraki is fast losing credibility.

“The most honourable thing for Saraki is to resign and face his prosecution. If he wins, the seat is always there and he can be re-elected again if those that supported him truly believe he is the best person for the position. And if not, he will remain a senator like he was in the seventh Assembly. Is it a must that he become Senate President?

“What is happening in the CCT is a personal thing to Saraki and it has nothing to do with his position as the Senate President. It has now reached the time when Saraki should take a bow to enable him to concentrate on his case at the CCT.

“I don’t have anything against him as a person. He is one of the few Nigerians that ought to respect the image and the integrity of the Senate more than anybody in this country. You hardly get 10 families that are blessed as far the institution of the National Assembly is concerned.

“He is a senator, a son of senator and a senior brother of a senator. They are blessed with three senators within their immediate family. So he should be in the forefront of protecting the image and integrity of the National Assembly.

“We have tolerated him based on the constitutional provisions that he is presumed innocent until he is found guilty by the court. I think he has exercised this right through the Supreme Court of the land which quashed all his grounds, he should resign honourably and face his trial in the interest of Senate and Nigerians.”

In a reaction, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Melaye, said the SUF was talking rubbish.

He said there was no need for anyone to raise the issue of resignation at this stage.

“(Senator) Marafa is a clown, we are optimistic that what is happening is not against Saraki as an individual, it is against the Senate as an institution.

“We will defend the Senate and we will no longer fold our arms on the issue. We know that at the end of the day, we shall come out stronger.

“The case at the CCT is not about Saraki; rather, it’s about the Senate. And we will not fold our arms to mess up with the Senate. The Senate is stable and Saraki has the support of most of the senators,” he said.



WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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