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FG gets tough on Gabon over dumping of illegal migrants on Nigerian seaports

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… As Buhari assures Nigerians: better days are coming

The Federal Government has warned Gabon and other ECOWAS countries to desist forthwith from dumping illegal immigrants in Nigeria.

Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd), who gave the warning in Calabar, Cross River State, on Thursday, said the Federal Government would impound any vessel which may, in the future, dump deportees in Nigerian seaports.

Dambazzau, represented by Comptroller of Immigration, Cross River State command, Funke Adeuyi, spoke during the evacuation of 617 men, women and children deported from Gabon and dumped in Calabar since Saturday.

He said other punitive measures including seizure of vessels and payment of fines as stipulated in ECOWAS charter would be used to stop the anomaly, adding that “Nigeria will no more tolerate this because of security implications of such actions.

“I’m here on behalf of the Minister of Interior, Lt Gen Abdurahaman Danbazzau (rtd), through the Comptroller General of Immigration‎ to warn that this should be the last time these categories of the deportees will be allowed to transit through the Nigerian land borders or ports.

“No Gabonese or any Central or West African government should repeat this or ever contemplate this type of unacceptable situation.

“Any country that brings this category of deportees to Nigeria will face the relevant penalty ranging from impounding of their vessels. Nigeria has a new policy on this type of issue, and I am here to reiterate that severe action will be taken by Nigerian government should this continue.”

On why the people were deported, he said “most of them were deported for immigration‎ related offence.”

Meanwhile, the President yesterday sent Nigerians a message of hope – the challenges facing the nation are temporary and will soon fizzle out.

In his New Year message to the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari said that he was not unaware of Nigerians’ suffering.

He assured all that he will not fail to keep his promises.

Buhari said: “I am aware that Nigerians have experienced a number of significant hardships over the past months. Living in the State House has not alienated me from your daily sufferings. I am aware of the lengthy queues at fuel stations and of the difficulties businesses have faced in acquiring foreign exchange. These challenges are only temporary; we are working to make things better.

“When I presented myself to you as a presidential candidate and asked you to vote for me, I wanted to be a leader who keeps his promises.  I wanted to be a leader who restores the people’s hope in those elected to serve them. I wanted to be a leader who initiates positive and enduring CHANGE.

“I am still totally committed to being that kind of leader. Unforeseen circumstances and other distractions notwithstanding,  I shall still do my utmost best to keep every promise I made to Nigerians during my election campaign.

According to him, his administration in the past seven months since his inauguration on May 29, 2015 has focused on laying the right foundation for the CHANGE that Nigerians voted for during the presidential election.

He added: “Nigerians will in due course begin to enjoy the fruits of all ongoing work. The effective and efficient implementation of our 2016 budget proposals will address many of the socio-economic issues that are of current concern to our people.

“One area in which Nigerians, especially those in the Northeast, have already begun to experience major CHANGE is in the war on terror.”

The President praised the Armed Forces for significantly curtailing the insurgency, which has ravaged the Northeast of Nigeria over the past few years.

He, however, noted that there is still a lot of work to be done in security.

He said: “Our Armed Forces will maintain, consolidate and build on their successes in the war against Boko Haram and violent extremism.

“This government will not consider the matter concluded until the terrorists have been completely routed and normalcy restored to all parts of the country that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.”

Buhari spoke also on the war against corruption, saying it will continue vigorously.

He urged the courts to support the new efforts in the recovery of stolen funds by speedily concluding trials and showing that impunity no longer has a place in Nigeria.

The President added: “There is much work to do in other areas as well and I have charged all my ministers and other  appointees to ensure that Nigerians experience positive changes in their lives in 2016.

“We must reduce our country’s reliance on oil. We must diversify our economy. And we must do all we can to promote job creation.”

“Our challenges are many but our determination to succeed is strong and unshaken. So too is our confidence in God. I wish you all a very Happy New Year,” Buhari said.

Tribune 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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