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EFCC declares Tompolo wanted

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  •  As Jonathan’s ADC is in trouble over N10b for PDP chiefs

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday declared a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, wanted.

The anti-graft agency, in an advertorial signed by its Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said it decided to declare Tompolo wanted following two bench warrants issued against him by a Federal High Court in Lagos, where he has been charged with a N45.9bn fraud.

In the said advertorial, which carried a photograph of Tompolo, the EFCC described him as a 47-year-old, dark-complexioned man from Okerenkoko, Gbaramotu Kingdom in the Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.

Tompolo, whose address was given as No. 1, Chief Agbanu Street, DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State, speaks both Izon and English languages, according to EFCC.

The public announcement issued by Uwujaren read in part, “The general public is hereby notified that Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo), whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in relation to the offence of conspiracy and illegal diversion of the sum of N34,000,000,000.00 and N11,900,000,000.00 belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.”

Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos had issued a bench warrant against Tompolo on January 14 after he shunned a summons dated January 12, 2016 issued by the judge to appear in connection with the fraud charges filed against him and nine others by EFCC.

Justice Buba had ordered the law enforcement agencies to produce Tompolo before him on February 8 for him to answer the charges, but rather than appear in court on January 8, Tompolo brought an application seeking to quash the bench warrant and arrest order. The judge, who dismissed the application for lacking in merit, renewed the arrest warrant and directed all law enforcement agencies to produce Tompolo before him on February 19.

Tompolo’s lawyer, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), after failing to get the bench warrant vacated, turn down the responsibility of undertaking to produce his client in court. Oyetibo said it was the responsibility of the prosecution to produce the suspect in court.

The EFCC filed 40 counts against Tompolo and nine others, including the immediate-past Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

In the meantime, detectives are questioning former President Goodluck Jonathan’s ex-Aide-De-Camp (ADC) on the disbursement of more than N10 billion oil proceeds to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nomination convention delegates.

Col. Ojogbane Adegbe is being detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is on the trail of another key aide to the former President – Waripamowei Dudafa, former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs. Adegbe and Dudafa collected the cash —   $47m and some Euros from the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), it was learnt.

The money was diverted by ONSA from a Signature Bonus Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The EFCC believes Dudafa is either in Dubai or somewhere on the Caribbean Islands. The N10billion is believed to have been diverted from oil receipts as follows: USD5.0M(November 14,2014); $47m( November 27,  2014); Euro 4.0M (December 3, 2014) and Euro 1.6M(December 24, 2014)

It was learnt that the former ADC was yesterday relocated from Mogadishu Cantonment for quizzing by the EFCC on the disbursement of the cash.

A source said: “We spent hours to grill the ADC on how he got and disbursed the $47million which was delivered to him in about 17 suitcases.

“The money was diverted from the CBN to bribe or settle PDP delegates to adopt ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for second term.

“We have asked him in the last 12 hours to account for how he came about the cash. “He is also expected to provide the list of beneficiaries of the largesse. All the beneficiaries will be unveiled by the EFCC and they have to refund public funds.”

On Dudafa, the top source said: “We are tracking him down. We are trying to locate his whereabouts in Dubai and some Caribbean Islands.

“What is certain is that Dudafa has moved out of the country to avoid being arrested by the anti-graft agency.” The N10billion was taken from the  Signature Bonus Account( oil block account ) with the CBN. In an October 29, 2015 to EFCC, the apex bank said: “Your letter ref: EFCC/EC/ CBN/ 12/163 dated  21st September 2015 to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and the directive by the management that we provide some explanations, we wish to state as follows: “The N10billion constitutes two tranches of N5.08billion each debited to the CBN/OAGF SIGNATURE BONUS ACCOUNT NO 400225220 vide OAGF memo Ref: FD/LP2015/1/28 DF to the  Office of the National Security Adviser A/C Number 20172241019 with the CBN Abuja  and the second was for credit into the account of National Security Adviser Account Number 1014199287 with Zenith Bank Plc Wuse II Abuja.

“The transactions were consummated  on November 10, 2014. The mandate that authorised the withdrawal of USD47.0M was from the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA) with REF: NSA/366/S dated November 26, 2014. The mandate was processed for dollar cash payment to Mr. S. A. Salisu on November 27,  2014.

“The USD5.0M was via a memo from the ONSA memo REF: ACCT/86/VOL. 2/ 218 dated November 13, 2014. The National Security Adviser Account Number 20172241019 was debited  and Dollar cash payment made to Mr. Wambai Ibrahim on November 14, 2014 in line with the mandate.

“The Euro 4.0M and Euro 1.6M transactions were via mandate from ONSA memo REF: NASS/ 366/S dated November 26, 2014.  The NSA’s Account Number 20172241019 was debited and Euro cash payment effected as follows: Euro 4.0M on December 3, 2014 and Euro 1.6M was on December 24, 2014.

These sums were released to Mr. S. A. Salisu as stipulated in the mandate. Attached are copies of all the relevant documents please.”

The CBN Governor responded to a letter ( EFCC/EC/CBN/12/163) of 21st September, 2015 by a former Chairman of EFCC,Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde. The three-paragraph letter said: “ This commission is investigating a case of Abuse of Office and money laundering of funds for special services by the Office of the National Security Adviser which were withdrawn  in November 2014.

“We seek your kind assistance to provide available information on the disbursement of the funds with copies of relevant documents, including transfers to foreign and local banks and cash withdrawals.

“Thank you in anticipation of your usual cooperation.” In his Statement of Witness/Accused Person which had been filed in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), ex-NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki said the over N10billion was given to the ADC and Dudafa.

He  said: “That I am aware in November, I cannot remember the exact date. My office requested the CBN to exchange N10billion from the account of the Office  Nations Security Adviser domiciled in CBN. The money was exchanged and $47m and some Euros which I cannot remember the exact amount was delivered at my residence.

“The money was for delegates that  attended the nomination convention for the PDP presidential nomination. The money was paid and sent to Hon. Dudafa(SSAP Household) and ADC(C-I-C) for distribution on the instruction of the President.

“Based on the statement of Director of Finance and Administration (Salisu), Ibrahim Wambai, and Yazidu Ibrahim, all the cash(both foreign and local) are usually given to them for official use.”

Punch with additional report from Nation

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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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