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Court remands Abba Moro in Kuje Prison



  • As NDDC contractors abscond with N70bn –Auditor

Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday ordered that former Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, and one F.O. Alayebami, facing N676 million money laundering fraud charges, be remanded in Kuje Prisons. They are to remain in prison custody till Wednesday, March 2nd, will be heard.

The judge, however, ordered that former Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Anastasia Nwobia, who is a nursing mother, should continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted her by Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions, EFCC.

Justice Chikere gave the order after Moro and the three accused persons pleaded not guilty to the 11-count charge, bordering on obtaining money by false pretences, procurement fraud and money laundering, preferred against them by EFCC. Moro was arraigned alongside Nwobia, Alayebami and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, while another suspect, Mahmood Ahmadu, is said to be at large.

The accused persons were alleged to have contravened the Public Procurement Act No. 65 of 2007 in contract awards by not following the necessary procedure laid down by government. According to EFCC, the award of Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, recruitment contract to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited had no prior advertisement and assessment, while a procurement plan was not carried out. The anti-graft agency added that there was no budgetary provision for the recruitment exercise in the 2014 federal budget; hence, applicants were made to bear the responsibility of funding the project without the approval of the board, contrary to section 22(5) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission Act, 2000.

Parts of the charges read: “That you Abba Moro Patrick, Anastsia Daniel Nwobia, F.O Alayebami, Mahmood Ahmadu (at large) and Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd. on or about the 17th of March, 2013 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court with the intent to defraud, conspired to induce a total number of 676,675 Nigerian job applicants seeking employment with Nigerian Immigration Service to deliver property to wit: cumulative sum of N675,675,000, which sum money represents the N1,000 per applicant under false pretence that the money represents e-payment for their online recruitment exercise into the NIS and which pretence you knew was false contrary to section 8 &1(1) (b) and punishable under section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, No 14 of 2006.

“That you Abba Moro Patrick, Anastsia Daniel Nwobia, F.O Alayebami, Mahmood Ahmadu (at large) and Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd. on or about the 30th of April, 2013 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did award contract for the provision of online enlistment and recruitment services to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited without advertising the contract contrary to section 25(1) and punishable under section 58 of the Public Procurement Act, No 65 of 2007. “That you Abba Moro Patrick, Anastsia Daniel Nwobia, F.O Alayebami, Mahmood Ahmadu (at large) and Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd. on or about the 30th of April, 2013 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did award contract for the provision of online enlistment and recruitment exercise into the Nigerian Immigration Services to Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited without advertising the contract contrary to section 45(2) and punishable under section 58(5) of the Public Procurement Act.65 of the 2007 and punishable under section 58 of the same Act.

“That you Drexel Tech Nigeria Ltd. and Mahmood Ahmadu (at large) on or about the 17th of March, 2015 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court converted the sum of N202,500,000, part of the sum of N675,675,000, obtained from the 675,675 Nigerian job applicants seeking employment with the Nigerian Immigration Service to buy property at No.1 Lahn Crescent, Maitama, Abuja which you reasonably ought to have known that such funds form part of the proceeds of the unlawful activities and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15 (2) of the money laundering provision Act 2011 as amended in 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

It would be recalled that the conduct of the recruitment test in March, 2014, led to the death of no fewer than 20 applicants, while many others were injured in stampedes in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Minna. Meanwhile, EFCC, yesterday, told Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that it had moved former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), to Lagos State for investigation in connection to fresh allegations linking him with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Management Agency, NIMASA, scam.

The anti-graft agency was responding to an application filed by counsel to Badeh, Mr. Samuel Zibiri, SAN, asking the court to grant him bail on self-recognition or on such favourable and liberal terms as the court might deem fit. The application was brought pursuant to section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution and sections 158, 162 and 165 (1) (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. Justice Tsoho has fixed March 4, 2016 to deliver his ruling on the application.

Earlier, Zibiri in moving the application submitted that his client voluntarily went to EFCC office in honour of its invitation on February 8, 2016 and was subsequently detained after several hours of interrogation and being compelled to write a bulky statement. He added that his client had been in the custody of EFCC since then.

Zibiri further submitted that the alleged case, which his client was invited, was ordinarily bailable, adding that there was no reason for, or any likelihood that his client would jump bail, escape from justice, interfere with witnesses or investigation upon his being granted bail. But in opposing the application, counsel to EFCC, Cosmos Ugwu, said the court sitting in Abuja had no territorial jurisdiction to grant the application since Badeh was in the custody of the Commission in Lagos.

He also informed the court that the applicant was being investigated on a fresh allegation linking him to the NIMASA scam and had been moved to Lagos. He submitted further that Badeh was yet to fulfil the terms of his administrative bail which the Commission granted him after his initial detention. It would be recalled that EFCC had over the weekend moved Mr. Badeh from Abuja to Lagos.

Reports have it that the decision to move the former Chief of Defence Staff to Lagos was motivated by a belief that he owned properties in the area. A source told our correspondent that the commission was trying to trace some of the properties.

“We are trying to trace houses that belong to some of the military chiefs. Apart from checking their bank accounts, we want to find out if part of the money for arms procurement was spent on those houses. “Based on the outcome of our investigations, Badeh may be charged to a Lagos High Court instead of Abuja,” the source said. Badeh, who is being investigated in connection with the $2.1 billion arms deal scandal was said to have been confronted with some documents, including letters to the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), demanding the procurement of some military equipment. According to reports, contracts totalling $930,500,690.00 were awarded by the military under the leadership of Badeh. The money was said to be part of the $2.1 billion arms fund. Badeh is also said to be answering questions on non-specification of procurement costs, absence of contract agreements, award of contracts beyond authorised thresholds, transfer of public funds for unidentified purposes and general non-adherence with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

Meanwhile, Auditor General of the Federation, AGF, Samuel Ukura, disclosed yesterday that after collecting N70 billion, some contractors working for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, disappeared into thin air without any presence at sites.

This disclosure was contained in the Auditor General’s query to NDDC for the financial year covering 2008 and 2012. Ukura also alleged that despite notifying the commission of the financial infractions on three separate occasions, NDDC failed to respond to the query.

The Auditor General laid this complaint yesterday at a public hearing called by the Senate Public Accounts Committee to look into the said query. The Auditor General told the committee, headed by Senator Andy Uba that the blame for the infraction should be shared between the contractors and the management of NDDC. Uba, in his remark, wondered why NDDC management should not be sanctioned for the financial infractions. He said: “The management of NDDC should explain why the contractors who were mobilised did not show any presence at the site.

“The management should also explain why appropriate sanctions should not be meted on it.” In his response, NDDC Director of Finance and Supplies, Jimoh Adejule, explained that upon receipt of the query, the board engaged the services of a consultant to verify the claims by the Auditor General. He said the report filed by the consultants showed that it was only N11 billion that was at stake.

The Auditor General, who stood his ground, wondered why the commission should further expend public funds to engage the services of a consultant when its engineers, who awarded the contracts and were supposed to supervise it, were still within the reach of the commission.

Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Mrs. Ibom Seminitari, assured the lawmakers of plans to unravel the perpetrators of the fraud, even though she said the alleged financial infraction took place before she took over. Uba subsequently gave the parties one month to reconcile the differences and report back to the committee.

National Mirror

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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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