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Falana issues notice to sue FG over foreign loan

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  • As CAN seeks prosecution of Jonathan for corruption

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has issued a notice to sue the Federal Government in order to discourage it from going ahead with its plan to obtain $3.5bn loan from the World Bank and the African Development Bank and to compel it to retrieve about $66.5bn government’s recoverable revenues, royalties and levies from some public and private bodies as well as some individuals.

Falana, in a letter dated February 12, 2016, which was addressed to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, threatened to file the suit against the Federal Government not later than February 29.

He said his planned suit was necessitated by the minister’s failure to respond to the “serious issues” which he raised in his earlier letter.

His fresh letter issuing the notice of legal proceedings was entitled, ‘Re: Federal Government’s plan to seek $3.5bn emergency loan from World Bank and African Development Bank should be dropped.’

The letter read, “Our letter dated February 5, 2016 in respect of the above subject matter refers.

“Since you have not deemed it fit to react to the serious issues raised in the letter, kindly be informed that we shall commence legal proceedings not later than February 29, 2015 with a view to compelling the Federal Government to recover the said loans, royalties levies and other recoverable revenues of not less than $66.5bn.”

Falana had in his earlier letter to the Minister of Finance, argued that there was no need to obtain a $3.5bn loan to finance the budget when the Federal Government could recover about $66.5bn it was being owed.

The lawyer urged the Federal Government to drop its proposition to obtain the foreign loan, noting that it required the endorsement of the International Monetary Fund, which he said, usually imposes stringent conditions on borrowing countries.

He lamented that the debt profile of the country had now grown to $64bn after it took much effort in 2005 for the country to exit the London/Paris Club after struggling to repay a loan of $12.4bn.

Falana urged the Federal Government to make effort to recover the over $66.5bn accruable to it, rather than obtain loan to finance the 2016 budget.

In the meantime, the Christian Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, has called for the prosecution of former President Goodluck Jonathan for corruption.

The Chairman of Lagos CAN, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, spoke in Lagos on Saturday on the sideline of an interdenominational service.

While fielding questions from journalists, Bamgbola applauded the ongoing war against corruption in the country, adding that nobody should be spared.

When asked about the stance of the group on the call for the prosecution of Jonathan, he said, “What is wrong with it? A former President of Peru (Alberto Fujimori) was jailed. Also, a popular prime minister of Israel (Ehud Olmert) was jailed. If a nation puts you in a position of trust and you betray that trust, you should go to jail no matter who you are. I have no sympathy for anybody. Just make sure you get it right, and we get the facts right as well.”

He lamented the corruption in the country, urging the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to go after the looters and “put them where they belong, so that we may have peace in this nation.”

The guest speaker, Prof. Joseph Otubu, who spoke on the topic, ‘Great Faith, the Antidote to Helplessness,’ urged the congregation to have faith in God and shun corrupt acts.

The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, appealed to CAN to support the programmes of the state government.

While quoting from 1 Corinthians 13:13, Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Lola Akande, asked members of the Christian body to embrace love and unity.

The Senator representing Lagos-East Senatorial District, Gbenga Ashafa, commended CAN for being consistent in organising the annual service, saying it would help people in the country to have faith and the fear of God.

He assured Nigerians that the senate would not cover up any shortcomings in the 2016 budget.

Ashafa said, “The presidency will re-present the budget. I appeal to Nigerians to be patient as everything will be to the benefit of the country.”

Punch with additional report from Upshot

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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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