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Fani-Kayode meets EFCC today over N840m campaign funds

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  • As Okupe confesses: I collected money from Dasuki monthly

After many weeks of verbal exchange, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, will today confront the spokesman of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s Campaign Organisation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, over N840 million he reportedly received a few days to the presidential election.

Fani-Kayode, who narrowly escaped arrest last Friday when about 10 EFCC operatives stormed his Maitama home in Abuja, is scheduled to appear before the commission today to explain why he collected the cash and what it was used for.

The former minister immediately raised the alarm that the agents of the commission had invaded his home and condemned them for doing so after he had given assurance that he would turn in.

The commission is, however, said to be monitoring his movement to ensure that he kept the appointment. It was not clear at press time if he would be allowed to go home after reporting at the commission for questioning over the money he reportedly received from the former finance minister, Sen. Esther Nenadi Usman, who served as the Director of Finance of the Jonathan’s campaign team. Usman, who had been detained for some days, only got some reprieve some days ago when she surrendered to the commission two Abuja homes and N140 million out of the N2.5 billion she is said to have received.

It was, however, learned last night that as part of the effort by EFCC to recover $115 million (N24 billion) that was made available for sharing by top government officials in the last administration, the EFCC would, this week, make more arrests of suspects for questioning.

However, a source, who spoke in confidence, declined to give the names of the key suspects likely to be taken in this week by the operatives, saying the agency was interested in recovering public funds from the suspects, no matter how highly placed they might be.

In the meantime, a former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has revealed that his office was funded monthly by the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

Okupe, who served under Jonathan from 2012 to 2015, said this on his official Twitter handle.

He, however, said he had nothing to do with the arms scam which cost the country over $15bn in stolen funds.

Okupe said, “I was not paid arms deal money. The NSA paid for the running of my office monthly from August 2012. Dasukigate was in 2014. I did not take part in the campaign.”

The former spokesman for Jonathan, however, received bashing from several of his followers online who wondered why his office should get security votes.

A Twitter user, Ojezs, asked, “You’re just implicating yourself. Is it the NSA office that employed you?”

Another user, Ayoola Ayodeji, wrote, “You probably mistake some of us for hungry people. A day will come when you won’t be able to sleep because poor people are outside your gate.”

In his response, Okupe wrote, “You guys are idiotic. You wait and pray for the innocent to be punished. It will not happen. You must think some of us are terrified.”

It had been reported in January that Okupe got at least N1.6bn off Dasuki in three shady cyber security contracts.

One of the contracts had instructions to hunt down unfriendly media websites with Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

It was believed to be a project conceived to shut down online media platforms perceived as friendly towards Muhammadu Buhari, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2015 election.

The other contract was to intercept all optic fibre cables landing in Nigeria. The third was a passive mass and target GSM interception that had the ability to decrypt ciphers and operate undetected.

The contracts that were allegedly awarded Okupe’s cronies, reinforces claims that the former NSA merely doled out cash and contracts to cronies and political associates and violated procurement regulations in the process.

Vanguard 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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