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Biafra: ECOWAS Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu’s case till November 8

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  • As Hurricane Matthew Hits Bahamas and Haiti Tries to Dig Out

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has adjourned Nnamdi Kanu’s alleged fundamental human rights breach case against the Federal Government till November 8.

The presiding judge, Micah Wright, adjourned the case on Wednesday for definite hearing following an application by the defendant.
Mr. Wright, however, declined the request for cost by the applicant.

The Federal Government, who was absent, had written to the court to adjourn the case because it had conflicting case in another court.
But, Counsel to the plaintiff, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, opposed the application for adjournment and requested for a cost of one million naira.

Mr. Kanu, a Director of Radio Biafra and leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, sued the Federal Government for alleged illegal detention.
Joined in the suit were the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS).

Mr. Kanu, in the suit, is asking for a compensation of $800 million for alleged violation of his human rights and an order directing his unconditional release and that of his personal belongings.

He also urged the court to direct the defendants to respect, protect and promote his rights to life, liberty, freedom of movement, assembly and expression.

The plaintiff prayed the court to declare that his arrest and detention since October 14, 2015 by the defendant was in flagrant disobedience to several orders of courts of competent jurisdiction.

He also prayed the court to declare that his continued detention was a violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter of 1970.

In the meantime, rescue workers in Haiti struggled to reach isolated towns on Haiti’s southern peninsula and learn the full extent of the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew as the powerful storm lashed at the Bahamas on Wednesday and triggered large-scale evacuations along the U.S. East Coast.

At least 16 deaths were blamed on the hurricane during its weeklong march across the Caribbean, 10 of them in Haiti. Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti’s civil protection agency, announced Wednesday that Haiti’s confirmed death toll had doubled from five to 10.

But with a key bridge washed out, roads impassable and phone communications down, the western tip of Haiti was largely cut off a day after Matthew made landfall and there was no full accounting of the dead and injured in its wake.

But Jean-Baptiste indicated her agency was starting to get a better handle about what happened in hard-hit Grande Anse department on Haiti’s southern peninsula and expected to soon release more information about what rescuers were finding.

After moving past Haiti, Matthew rolled across a corner of Cuba and began pounding the southern Bahamas with heavy wind and rain. Weakening a bit, it had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) late Wednesday as it spun on a course expected to take it near the capital city of Nassau during the night. It was expected to regain strength overnight.

Forecasters said the storm could hit Florida — or come dangerously close — Thursday evening and then sideswipe the East Coast all the way up to the Carolinas over the weekend. Matthew could become the first major hurricane to blow ashore in the U.S. since Wilma slashed across Florida in 2005, killing five people.

Nearly 2 million people along the lower East Coast were urged to evacuate their homes.

“If you’re able to go early, leave now,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned.

On Tuesday, Matthew swept across a remote area of Haiti with 145 mph (230 kph) winds, wrecking homes and swamping roads. But government leaders in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere said they weren’t close to fully gauging the effect in the flood-prone nation where less powerful storms have killed thousands.

“What we know is that many, many houses have been damaged. Some lost rooftops and they’ll have to be replaced, while others were totally destroyed,” Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. military announced that a small advance team would start preparing for the arrival of roughly 100 military personnel and nine helicopters currently in the Cayman Islands.

The U.S. government said it sent experts to Haiti to assess the damage and is providing $1.5 million in food and other disaster assistance.

Mourad Wahba, the U.N. secretary-general’s deputy special representative for Haiti, called the hurricane the biggest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010.

The Haitian government postponed Sunday’s presidential election, in part because some schools and churches that are used as polling stations are serving as shelters and police can’t get election materials to some districts. A new date for the vote was not expected to be announced until next week.

Aid groups with representatives in the area said it was clear that many homes and crops were destroyed but that the extent was impossible to gauge, especially in the Grand Anse area on the southwestern tip, which Matthew’s eye raked over.

“We have people in Grand Anse that we cannot reach,” Hervil Cherubin, country director for Heifer International, a nonprofit group that works with local farmers.

While the capital, Port-au-Prince, was essentially back to normal in many spots, there was still widespread flooding across southern Haiti.

“There’s absolutely nothing we can do to protect ourselves here,” motorcycle taxi driver Joseph Paul said as he watched torrents of brown water wash over a road and deluge his low-lying neighborhood in Leogane. “This storm was too much for us, and we are at its mercy.”

The hurricane blew across the sparsely populated eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday night, destroying dozens of homes in Cuba’s easternmost city, Baracoa, and damaging hundreds.

People stood amid the rubble of their homes, weeping, hugging or staring into the distance. Others scoured piles of concrete and rebar for any possessions they could recover. Some carried cooking pots and rolled-up mattresses through the streets on their way to a shelter.

“I’ve never seen something like this in my life,” Elva Perez, a 55-year-old homemaker said as she stood by what remained of her home. “For more than 200 years, here in this house, nothing like this has ever happened.”

At the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the storm knocked down trees and caused road flooding but no injuries or major damage, said Julie Ripley, a spokeswoman.

At 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT), Matthew was centered about 125 miles (205 kilometers) south-southeast of Nassau in the central Bahamas. It was heading northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the center, meaning Matthew could wreak havoc along the East Coast even if it did not actually come ashore.

Along the East Coast, people boarded up beach homes, some schools closed and residents began clearing out.

The office of Florida’s government said 1.5 million people were being encouraged to move to safer spots.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced plans to evacuate a quarter-million people from the coast, not counting tourists, starting Wednesday afternoon.

Upshot with additional report from AbcNews

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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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