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EFCC traces N4.7b arms cash to Fayose, Obanikoro

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Detectives have traced about N4.745billion of the diverted $2. 1billion arms cash to a former Minister of State (Defence),  Musiliu Obanikoro and Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose.

The cash was sourced from the SAS Imprest Account of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under ex-NSA Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) prior to the conduct of the June 21, 2014 Ekiti State governorship election, according to an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigation.

Others linked with the sharing of the slush funds include Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele(Alias Abbey); Mrs. Helen Olayemi Fayose; Obanikoro’s sons — Gbolahan and Babajide —  Ikenna Ezekwe; Sylvan Mcnamara Limited(a company allegedly  run by the Obanikoros); Spotless Hotel, owned by Fayose and De Privateer Limited, which is owned by  Agbele.

About 30 bureaux de change changed N759, 384, 300 (out of the N4.745billion) into dollars.

A curious aspect of the findings by the EFCC is how Obanikoro, as a minister, flew N1.218billion to Akure on June 12, 2014 for Fayose a few days before the election.

According to documents obtained by our correspondent, EFCC investigators discovered that a firm, Sylvan Mcnamara Limited, allegedly owned by Obanikoro and his sons,   was used to launder the N4.745billion.

The directors of the company, which was incorporated in November 2011, are: a close aide of the ex-Minister, Ikenna Ezekwe(700,000 shares) of 51 Simpson Street, Ebute-Metta; Idowu Oshodi(299,000 shares) of 8, Prince Tayo Adesanya Street, Park View Estate, Ikoyi; and Elizabeth Adebiyi(1,000 shares) of 3, Adedoyin Street, Ijeshatedo, Surulere.

“To set the stage for the use of the company for money laundering, the board of directors on May 7, 2012  passed a resolution that the company should open an account and appointed Mr. Gbolahan Obanikoro, Ikenna Ezekwe, Ms. Theresa Matuluko (Secretary) and Mr. Babajide Obanikoro as the signatories to the account.

“The board added that the signing combination be that any of the signatories can sign alone.”

According to the EFCC, when it was time to illegally draw the N4.745billion from ONSA for election, Obanikoro made the account of Sylvan Mcnamara Limited available and coordinated the disbursement.

The breakdown of the disbursement is N759, 384, 300 changed into dollars through bureaux de change; N160million spent on cars through Balmoral International Limited; N1, 219, 490,000 ferried by Obanikoro in two flights to a branch of Zenith Bank at Plot 13, Alagbaka Estate, Akure to evacuate the cash and received by Fayose’s associate, Abiodun; balance of about N2billion withdrawn by Obanikoro and his two children in cash.

Some of the bureaux de change and the amounts credited to them include  A.A.G.B.S Oil and Gas  (N168,000,000.00); Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd (N167,500,000.00); Northline Ltd (N835,000.00);  Northline Ltd (N83,750,000.00); Five Star Ltd N(37,600,000.00); A.B.A Trading Ent (N268,301,500.00); Villagolf Bureaux De (N1,425,000.00); Ahmad Ahmad &Omar (N350,000.000); Northline Ltd  (N1,680,000.00); Northline Limited A (N2,325,300); Rehoboth Homes  (N20,000,0000); Northline Ltd (N5,932,500.00); Northline Ltd (N842,500); Northline Ltd (N842,500.00).

The EFCC also exposed how N1, 219, 490,000 was allegedly flown to Akure Airport on June 12, 2014 to Fayose through his associate, Abiodun Agbele (aka Abbey).

The Nation yesterday stumbled on a document on the EFCC’s findings. It reads: “On June 12, 2014, the sum of N1, 219, 490,000 was flown from Lagos to Akure Airport by Musiliu  Obanikoro through a chartered plane (HS 125 jet) with a tail number N638MA. The plane belongs to Okin Travels which is a subsidiary of Elizade Motors. But the aircraft was then managed by OAS Helicopters for commercial/ chartered service.

“The ex-minister was accompanied by his military Aide-de-Camp who introduced himself as A.O. Adewale.

“The N1, 219, 490,000 was in two consignments but flown in the same aircraft twice in the morning and in the evening. From FAAN records, the first cash of N724, 500,000 arrived at Akure Airport at an estimated time of 9.38am and the second was at 17.57hours.

“A bullion van was brought by Zenith Bank to the tarmac at the airport in Akure to evacuate the cash to Zenith Bank at Plot 13, Alagbaka Estate, Akure.

“Obanikoro handed over the funds to Fayose’s associate, Abiodun Agbele (alias Abbey). This Abiodun in company with the bank officials moved the money to Zenith Bank in Akure.”

The EFCC gave details of how the N1, 219, 490,000 was shared to Fayose and others by Agbele.”

The document said: “The N1, 219, 490,000 was not deposited in any account but it was kept in a vault in the bank. It took the bank officials about 10 days to count. The bankers refused to make entry until it was counted,

“Shortly after confirming the figure, Abiodun was used to coordinate the disbursement of the funds. On June 26, 2014, the wanted associate (Abiodun Agbele) paid N137million into Ayodele Fayose’s account 10003126654 with Zenith Bank through Teller-0556814. Fayose’s BVN on the teller is 22338867502. On August 22, 2014, he paid N50million into the same account. By the records from the bank, Abiodun paid another N118, 760,000 into Fayose’s account on 27/8/14.

“Based on the transfers, Fayose moved N300million to a Fixed Deposit Account No 9013074033 with Zenith Bank at 15, Olusola Abiona Street, Olorunda Estate, Alapere Ketu. He has the same BVN-22338867502.

“After that, Abiodun deposited another N100million from the N1, 219, 490,000 into Spotless Hotel Account run by Fayose and  Helen Olayemi Fayose with Account No. 1010170969, Fayose’s BVN is 223338867502 and Helen’s BVN in the account is 22298990256.

“The governor and Helen are the two directors and signatories of Spotless Hotel account.”

In the course of the investigation, the EFCC team dug up how De Privateer Limited (a company owned by Abiodun Agbele) with Account No. 1013835889 received N219, 490,000 on June 18, 2014.

“On June 19, 2014, the same account received N300million and another N200million on June 23, 2014. The BVN of the account is 22235692890.

A top official of the EFCC said: “Fayose benefited from the ONSA slush funds when he was yet to be a governor. So, the fact that he has immunity now as a governor does not mean we should not investigate him.

“The EFCC also has the right to interact with all those connected with the illegal withdrawal of public funds and the diversion of the cash.”

Regarding the fate of Fayose’s associate, the source added: “We will invite him for interrogation; we have already initiated the process.”

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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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