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Don’t limit probe to my administration, investigate past govts – Jonathan tells Buhari

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... As court restrained IG from arresting Kashamu

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday advised the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, not to single out his administration in any probe he may want to carry out after his inauguration on Friday. He said all those advising Buhari to probe his administration must also advise him to extend his probe beyond his regime or else, the probe will be seen as a witch-hunt.

Jonathan made his position known at the valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which he presided over at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He also said those calling for his administration’s probe should add that the probe should be extended to the way oil wells and fields were allocated in the past.

A former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, had over the weekend joined the growing number of persons calling on Buhari to probe the Jonathan administration.

Jonathan said, “Some people are even calling for the probe of this government. I agree that in Nigeria, there are a number of things that we will probe; very many things.

“Even debts owed by states and this nation from 1960 up to this time. They are saying it is Jonathan’s administration that is owing all the debts.

“I believe that anybody calling for probe must ensure that these probes are extended beyond the Jonathan administration, otherwise to me, it will be a witch-hunt. If you are very sincere, then it is not just the Jonathan’s administration that should be probed.

“A number of things have gone wrong and we have done our best to fix them. The Attorney General is aware of the massive judgement debts, if we aggregate all of them, it is about $1bn. How did we come to this kind of huge judgement debts? These issues should be probed.

“How do you allocate our oil wells, oil fields, marginal wells and others? Do we follow our laws? All these should be probed. I believe all these and many more areas should be looked at.”

Jonathan said regardless of what critics might say about his administration, he and his team had done well under a difficult situation. He advised those who criticise him to endeavour to compare his administration’s performance with those of the administrations before him on a sector-by-sector basis.

The President listed some of the daunting challenges faced by his administration to include the prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, terror attacks and the ongoing fuel scarcity. Jonathan described the ongoing fuel scarcity as an act of sabotage.

The president claimed that those who felt they must bring his government to its knees were the ones behind the scarcity. He wondered why marketers would choose to go on strike a few days to the end of his administration.

“Even this last fuel scarcity, to me one can clearly say it was an act of sabotage. This government has few days to go, that is definitely not the time you expect massive strikes, using marketers and unions. Unions asking for increase in salaries at a time oil prices have dropped and volumes have dropped,” he said.

The President made it clear that he had not dissolved his cabinet as all ministers were expected to attend the inauguration dinner on Thursday in their official capacity.

Earlier, the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, had thanked Jonathan for finding him worthy to be his running mate in 2011 and 2015. He said he did not at any time lobby the President for the position. He promised to remain a member of the Jonathan family and his ambassador anywhere he found himself.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), said the administration had impacted on the lives of millions of Nigerians.

In the meantime, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, restrained the Inspector General of Police, IG, and  Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, from arresting the Senator-elect for Ogun East Senatorial District,  Prince Buruji Kashamu, for onward extradition to the United States of America over alleged drug-related offences.

 

Meanwhile, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, yesterday recanted its stance on Tuesday’s court order by another Federal High Court when it pledged to obey  the order of the court and vacate Kashamu’s residence.

 

Justice Okon Abang in his judgement in a fundamental human rights enforcement suit by Kashamu, challenging plans to extradite him to the US, held that the agencies must comply with the letters of the Extradition Act if they must arrest or extradite the senator -elect.

 

The court further restrained the IG from withdrawing the security details currently attached to the applicant.

The court also directed the Clerk of the National Assembly to accord the applicant all he deserved as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The judge, who noted that he cannot perpetually restrain the respondents from arresting Kashamu, said “the respondents cannot be perpetually restrained from arresting the applicants but are restrained from unlawful arrest of the applicant without compliance to the provision of the Extradition Act.”

Respondents in the suit are  Chairman, NDLEA;  Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC;  Director General, Department of State Security, DSS; the Interpol, National Central Bureau, NCB and Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF.

Others are the Clerk of the National Assembly, the National Security Adviser to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Nigeria Custom Services, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Kashamu had prayed the court to restrain the defendants and their agents from arresting, detaining or otherwise effecting his abduction upon spurious allegation.

The IG and the Interpol, in their counter affidavit in opposition to the applicant’s suit, had averred that no cause of action was declared against them in the suit and that the judge cannot sustain the suit based on speculations.

NDLEA in its counter-affidavit had averred that it had not received any instruction from the AGF or anywhere to extradite the applicant, adding that it was not aware of any plan to forcefully transport Kashamu to the United States for prosecution over alleged drug-related offences.

NDLEA argued that sometimes in 2003, the applicant was discharged of drug offences by a United Kingdom court over mistaken identity, urged the court to strike out the suit on the ground that it didn’t disclose a reasonable cause of action against it.

The EFCC Chairman and the Director General of DSS, in their counter affidavits, averred that they were not in collusion with the United States Government or former President Olusegun Obasanjo or anyone to kidnap or arrest the applicant.

We’ll abide by court’s decision—NDLEA

NDLEA’s head of Public Affairs, Mitchell Ofoyeju, in a statement, said: “The agency will obey the decision of the court of competent jurisdiction on the ongoing case involving senator-elect, Buruji Kashamu. As a government agency and a law enforcement institution that has respect for the rule of law, the NDLEA will abide by the decisions of a competent court.

“This is a legal issue and the agency has windows of opportunities to explore legally in advancing its case. NDLEA will not violate court orders or take law into its hands in enforcing its statutory responsibilities.”

Punch With additional reports 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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