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EFCC picks up Diezani’s hubby, Alison, over alleged $600,000 money laundering

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, invited Alison Amaechina Madueke, husband of embattled former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke. Madueke, a retired Admiral of the Nigerian Navy and former Chief of Naval Staff, was picked up in Abuja yesterday morning by EFCC operatives over alleged money laundering to the tune of $600,000 through his personal accounts.

An EFCC source close to the interrogation confirmed to Vanguard last night that Madueke was summoned in connection with some funds, which were traced from some suspicious transactions into his account but did not give details of the transactions.

The source did not also say whether the transactions had anything to do with his wife, Diezani, who many believe authorized the controversial oil deals now rocking the industry. But a source close to Madueke said the man was simply invited to make some clarifications and nothing more.

“They think he has some clarifications to do. The invitation by the EFCC certainly had nothing to do with the wife. He reported there, cleared the air and he was asked to go back home,” the legal practitioner said.

A top EFCC official said the man was asked to appear before them to make clarifications on certain issues related to some financial transactions traced to his account.

The source hinted that although Madueke had been cautioned and released on administrative bail, he might be asked to report back on a future date.

‘Sacked bank chief donated N1bn to PDP’ In a related development, a former top government official, among those shown the way out of their offices on Monday by the Federal Government, is facing more trouble, over alleged malpractices.

The official, who headed a bank was said to have run into trouble for withdrawing the sum of N1 billion in the build-up to the 2015 election and paying same to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to aid its presidential campaign. A top source in the bank told Vanguard, yesterday, that although the money was withdrawn in Naira, it was, thereafter, changed into US Dollars and given to a senior official of the party.

Insiders hinted, last night, that about 40 per cent of the amount said to have been withdrawn and paid to the PDP in order to impress the former President was, however, shared by some top officials of the bank with the knowledge of the sacked boss.

Top on the list of offences, which the sacked bank chief perpetrated while in office, is the demand for 10 per cent bribe of any amount to be approved for customers and other illegal sundry charges which discouraged potential businessmen from patronising the bank for development funds.

The ex-bank boss is accused of using his exalted position to disburse huge funds running into billions of Naira to himself, friends and associates, thereby leaving the strategic federal financial institution in what insiders described as ‘terrible shape’.

One of the fronts he used to siphon money from the bank in the name of ‘loans’ was said to have been arrested by the EFCC for using one property situated at Jikwoyi, near Abuja, as ‘collateral’ for collecting over N2 billion from the bank. The man was, however, released on bail but the trial is yet to be concluded.

In one case, which is now being looked into by the Ministry of Finance, which supervises the financial institution, the sacked executive refused to approve a N1.5 billion loan requested by a popular farming association based in Lagos and Ogun states, despite the recommendation of the food-producing group by former President, Chief  Olusegun Obasanjo.

According to report now before the Ministry of Finance, the firm had approached the bank boss as early as 2012 and applied for a loan facility of N1.5 billion to enable it acquire more equipment and produce more for exports but the man insisted on taking 10 per cent bribe as a condition for listing the firm for discussion with other board members.

After paying the initial N150 million as demanded by the bank boss, he then asked the farming group to bring another N150 million to be shared out to his other officials before releasing the loan to them.

“We were forced to go and source for the balance of N150 million to pay the man only for us to be told that he had been sacked last Monday.

“We have already lost N150 million, being 10 per cent of N1.5 billion as bribe to this man who was shown the way out of the bank last Monday. All our documents for the loan are intact in the bank.

“We have reported this matter to both the EFCC and the Minister of Finance who supervises the bank,” one of the farmers in the group told Vanguard in Abuja, yesterday.

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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