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Dariye wanted in London for money laundering, says EFCC

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  • As FG works to recover $750m Abacha loot  — Minister

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja, on Tuesday, that a former Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Joshua Dariye, was still wanted in the United Kingdom for alleged money laundering.

The commission said the former governor escaped to Nigeria after jumping bail that was granted him in London in 2004.

Dariye, who was later elected Senator, representing Plateau Central in the 2015 general elections, is being prosecuted on 23 counts of money laundering and diversion of Plateau State’s N1.126bn ecological funds while he was the state governor.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr. Garba Pwul (SAN), on Tuesday, the EFCC’s first prosecution witness, Mr. Sunday Musa, who is also a detective with the anti-graft agency, said the London Investigating Police Officer, Mr. Peter Clark, visited Nigeria in the course of EFCC’s investigation into the case against Dariye.

“The defendant (Dariye) was granted police bail by the UK police and he jumped bail. The Investigating Police Officer in London, Peter Clark, was in Nigeria in the course of our investigation,” Musa said.

Dariye was Plateau State governor between May 29, 1999 and May 2007 but was abruptly impeached in 2004 before he was reinstated.

Seven years after the charges were instituted against Dariye, the trial began on Tuesday following a Supreme Court’s judgment delivered on February 27, 2015, laying to rest an interlocutory application filed by Dariye and which had stalled the case since it was filed in 2007.

The apex court had, after dismissing Dariye’s appeal in the judgment, ordered Dariye to submit himself to trial.

The prosecution had on Monday called Musa as its first witness, who narrated to the court, presided over by Justice Adebukola Banjoko, how Dariye allegedly diverted the state’s N1.126bn ecological funds to his personal bank account.

The witness said investigation by the EFCC operatives revealed that the former governor had, in 2001, applied for the funds in the name of his state.

But Dariye allegedly collected the money in person and lodged it with the Abuja Branch of the All States Trust Bank Plc (now defunct).

The witness added that the bank manager, allegedly acting on Dariye’s instructions, paid N100m in the name of the “PDP South-West”, adding that the money was later traced to a company – Marine Float Nigeria Limited – allegedly owned by a former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel on Tuesday, the witness confirmed that the decision by the EFCC to investigate Dariye for alleged money laundering was informed by information provided by the London Metropolitan Police.

He said the case was still pending in London.

Earlier on Tuesday before he was cross-examined by Pwul, Musa, while, concluding his testimony, which he started on Monday, said investigation had revealed that an unregistered firm, Ebenezer Ritnan Venture Limited, linked to Dariye, was a beneficiary of the alleged fraud and that the money paid to it was later moved to a London bank.

The witness said facts gathered by the EFCC was later sent to the Metropolitan Police, a development which he said prompted Dariye’s arrest by the Metropolitan Police.

He said Dariye was later granted bail in London but managed to escape to Nigeria.

The witness said, “From our investigation in Nigeria and documents tendered clearly showed that the defendant was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London, granted bail, jumped bail and escaped to Nigeria.

“We also saw a Diamond Bank draft of N204m, drawn from the Plateau State Accountant General’s account, but paid into Ebenezer Ritnan’s account.

“The instructions for the payment were given by the Accountant General, Sham Damisa; Nuhu Ali Madaki, Deputy Director, Treasury; and Silas Bum-But, Deputy Director, Inspectorate.

“In the course of investigation, we invited these people to prove to the commission what job was executed by Ebenezer Ritnan to have warranted the payment. But they could not show that any job was done for the state and for which the state paid the money.

“For failing to provide reasons for this payment, they were charged to court. They are currently on trial before this court.

“In the course of the investigation, the defendant was invited to make a statement, which he did at the Asokoro office of the EFCC.”

The prosecution had indicated, in its proof of evidence, that the current Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, might testify in the case.

Magu is listed as one of the 33 witnesses slated to give testimony in the case by the prosecution.

He led the five-man team of EFCC detectives that investigated the case.

Musa, who identified some bank drafts allegedly used in moving funds from the Plateau State Accountant General’s account with Lion bank, said, “All these drafts were traced to All States Trust Bank and were all raised in the name of Plateau State, but paid into Ebenezer Ritnan’s account. In the course of investigation, we found that there was no contract between the state and Ebenezer Ritnan Venture.

“From investigation, we further found that the defendant (Dariye) was the account holder. We discovered some property, which the defendant used part of the money to purchase.

“We applied for an interim forfeiture order to confiscate the property.”

Justice Banjoko admitted Dariye’s three statements, made in 2007 in evidence, as exhibits P13 (a), (b) & (c).

The judge adjourned till February 2 for continuation of trial.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Tuesday said corrupt elements in the country were waging a dirty war against its anti-graft fight.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who said this at a press conference in Abuja, explained why the government could not release the list of treasury looters now.

He also blamed a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), and others involved in the alleged $2.1bn arms scandal for the prolonged war against Boko Haram.

In the meantime, the Federal Government yesterday said that it would soon embark on the recovery of additional $750 million said to be “Abacha loot” yet pending.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami disclosed this during an interactive session with the House of   Representatives Committee on Justice in Abuja.

The Minister further stated that his ministry was aiming at recovering on behalf of the Federal Government £6.9 million said to have been misappropriated by a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

He said: “In respect of of the recovery of looted assets, the ministry will engage in an agree waive policy of using Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements or other bilateral and multilateral instruments to seek cooperation with other jurisdictions to ensure the repatriation of illicitly- acquired assets in foreign jurisdictions.

“The collaboration will equally involve the engagement of foreign- based Counsel to attend to matters on behalf of the Federal Government. Low- hanging fruits being targeted in this initiative include $750 million ‘Abaca loot’ as well as the sum of GBP 6.9 million of the ‘Ibori loot’.

“On the long run, the ministry will be in a position to coordinate the recovery of billions of Dollars in foreign jurisdictions, based on current estimations.”

On the issue of terrorism, the AGF said, “My ministry is currently processing approximately 800 terrorism cases   for prosecution . The resources required for the successful prosecution of these cases as well as the general coordination of the Criminal Justice Sector as envisaged under the ACIA, were fully captured in the original  proposal made by the ministry to the Ministry of Finance.

“The successful prosecution of the above priorities will require the necessary balance of personnel capacity including staff training, travels and tours, resource capacity in terms of adequate budgetary allocations and legislative support by the National Assembly through the passage of all requisite Bills, as may be presented by the executive arm.

“The anti-corruption campaign will involve the deployment of resources by the ministry to assess and prosecute the requisite cases in collaboration with the anti-corruption agencies, pursuit to the overriding powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Sections 150 and 174 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“In respect of measures to ensure the expeditious prosecution of terrorism, the ministry’s efforts will be anchored on the successful implementation of the administration of criminal justice Act 2015, ACJA, and the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013.”

Punch 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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