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Deploy More ICT In Ports’ Service, NPA Tells Agents

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  • As Police comb Bayelsa creeks for Tompolo

The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA)  has urged the Licensed Customs Agents to deploy ICT-tools in providing services to the nation.

The NPA General Manager,  Western Ports,  Chief Michael Ajayi stated this during his visit to the National President of ANLCA Prince Oayiwola Shattuck,  in Lagos, noting that the association occupies a strategic position in the country’s supply chain.

He said the MD of NPA Alhaji Habib Abdullahi has given them a matching order to commence the enforcement of Vehicle/Trucks standardization and certification processes; adding  that the process was already being put in place to safeguard cargoes and lives.

In the meantime, the police have deployed policemen in the creeks of Bayelsa State to arrest a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

It was learnt that the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, had ordered the Bayelsa State Police Command to carry out Tompolo’s arrest in compliance with the order of a Federal High Court, Lagos.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Bisi Kolawole, confirmed to our correspondent on Sunday that the IG had directed his officers to apprehend Tompolo, who has also been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court had ordered the arrest of the ex-militant leader for his failure to appear before him to answer 40 counts on an alleged N45.9bn fraud.

The EFCC had charged Tompolo and a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, alongside eight others with N45.9bn fraud.

Buba had issued a bench warrant against Tompolo and ordered that he must be produced in court on February 8, 2016 “by all means to answer the charges.”

Tompolo was however not arrested before the due date by the police, who claimed that they were not served the court order.

When the matter came up in court on February 8, Tompolo also failed to show up, prompting the judge to re-issue the order for the ex-militant’s arrest.

The police spokesperson stated that the Force would do everything possible to arrest Tompolo in compliance to the bench warrant issued by the court.

Asked if the police would be collaborating with other security agencies, including the military, to effect Tompolo’s arrest, Kolawole said that would not be necessary, noting that the police were up to the task.

“As the IG stated, we have deployed men to carry out the court order to arrest Tompolo and our men are on his trail. I don’t think it would be necessary to involve other security agencies, the police are up to the task of apprehending him,” she said.

The other suspects in the 40 counts filed against Tompolo and Akpobolokemi are Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Capt. Warredi Enisuoh.

The suspects were charged along with four companies, namely: Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.

The suspects were accused of diverting and converting to their personal use a sum of N34bn and N11.9bn belonging to NIMASA.

The offence, according to EFCC, is contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Additional report from Punch

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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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