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Court rules on Jonathan eligibility suit Jan 15

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed January 15 for further hearing in a suit filed by two lawyers and another Nigerian – Mase Acho, Saeeq Sarki and Murtala Abubakar – who are also challenging the eligibility of President Jonathan and his vice, Namadi Sambo, to seek re-election.

The plaintiffs in both suits are in their substantive suit asking the court for, among other prayers, an order restraining the INEC and the AGF from allowing Jonathan and his vice, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, to seek re-election for their respective offices in 2015.

They argued that by virtue of constitutional provisions, the oaths taken by Jonathan and Sambo following the death of President Umaru Yar’adua in 2010 and their subsequent re-election in 2011, both of them were deemed to have completed the two terms allowed by law.

The parties in the second suit, numbered, FHC/ABJ/CS/661/14, are President Jonathan, Sambo, the Peoples Democratic Party and INEC.

The judge adjourned the matter to enable him to attention to about 17 other cases listed for the day.

The court had heard the plaintiffs’ counsel, James Ocholi (SAN), as well as the preliminary objection and the counter-affidavit filed by Nomeh in opposition to the suit on behalf of Jonathan and Sambo.

The PDP’s counsel, Mr. Victor Kwon, was arguing his own preliminary objection and counter-affidavit when the judge asked him to stop and return to elaborate on his submissions on January 15.

Meanwhile, the same court has fixed January 12, 2015, for ruling on an application for the transfer of a suit challenging the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to seek re-election in 2015 to the Court of Appeal.

The plaintiffs, who both claim to be presidential aspirants – Adejumo Ajagbe and Olatoye Wahab – are seeking the referral on the grounds that the suit involves “a substantial question of law” which the Court of Appeal has to make pronouncement on “as soon as possible.”

At the hearing of the application before Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Monday, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, who is one of the two defendants in the suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/662/14, opposed the application.

Through his counsel, Mr. Kenechukwu Nomeh, from the law firm of Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), the AGF argued that the plaintiffs’ application for referral was a ploy to delay the hearing and the disposal of the main suit.

The attorney-general also argued that his counsel, Okeaya-Inneh was representing the President in an appeal on the same subject matter of Jonathan’s eligibility at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, “hence there is no need for the referral.”

The appeal referred to by the AGF was filed by Mr. Cyriacus Njoku who is challenging the judgment of Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Federal Capital High Court, who had earlier ruled that Jonathan was eligible to contest in 2015.

Nomeh on Monday urged the Justice Mohammed to be persuaded by the FCT High Court judgment and a similar one earlier delivered by the Kaduna Division of the Federal High Court.

But counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr. M.A Magaji (SAN), justified his client’s application on Monday, insisting that none of the respondents’ interests would be jeopardised if the matter is referred to the Court of Appeal.

Magaji maintained that in view of an earlier decision of the Supreme Court, a judge of the lower court was under obligation to refer a case to a higher court upon an application for it by a party.

The judge adjourned till January 12 for ruling.—The Citizen

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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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