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FG may restructure Customs’ Board over Minister, CG’s rift



  • As Senators declare: Nigeria Cannot Be a Dumping Ground for Substandard Goods

The Federal Government is concluding plans to embark on a major restructuring of the Board of the Nigeria Customs Service as part of measures to end the lingering supremacy rift between the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Comptroller General of the service Col. Hameed Ali.

The duo, it is rumoured, has in the last few weeks been engaging in a silent but fierce cold war over supremacy issues arising from the interpretation of some sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act CEMA.

Competent industry sources hinted that part of the restructuring would remove the powers of the Minister of Finance as chairman of the Governing Board of the service, contrary to the provisions of the CEMA, which is the enabling legislation for the service.

Under the new dispensation, the current CG, who is not a serving Customs officer would now report and take orders directly from President Muhammandu Buhari not the Minister of Finance, which is in contravention of relevant sections of CEMA.

It was however not clear as at the time of filing this report who would head the customs board since the powers of the Minister to that effect has been withdrawn by the presidency. This development might create a vacuum in the scheme of things as well as causing some distortions in import and export trade administration in the country.

Stakeholders have however argued that apart from the distortions that would trail this current restructuring would cause to the system, it would also destroy the structure of the service itself, since authority flows from the Minister through the board to the management headed by the CG.

“It is enough that the president forced an army officer retired more than 20 years ago on a professional organisation like the nation’s Customs Administration in the name of fighting corruption, but move towards making the CG report directly to the president would distort so many things in the international trade administration in Nigeria”, a stakeholder who craved anonymity said.

According to him, apart from being illegal, the current move would lay a very bad precedence in the system where the CG of the service would report directly to the president of the country, which he insisted was an aberration.

He also wondered that situations arise sometimes when the Minister and the CG of Customs need to take decisions on importexport policies, a role that be played by the president would play now, especially given his tight schedule.

This stakeholder however insisted that whatever the president would do in the light of the proposed restructuring would remain in the realm of illegality for now, since he needs to amend relevant sections of the CEMA, which spelt out duties and functions of the Minister as the chairman of the board and the CG, who is the Chief Executive officer of the service.

In the meantime, Senators on Wednesday made moves to ensure that Nigeria does not become a dumping ground for importation of substandard products.

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe in a motion before the Senate said efforts should be made to patronize local industries which produce goods that are being imported instead of allowing importation of substandard goods.

Noting that Nigeria has remained a big importer of finished products since 1960s till date, Abaribe said this has led to closure of many industries with Nigerians relying on imported goods.

He argued that consuming what Nigeria does not produce has impacted negatively on the nation’s economy.

For instance, he said that 170 companies involved in manufacturing of textiles have since reduced to 12.
This development, he said, has led to mass sack of about 100,000 workers employed by these companies.

Following this, the Senate adopted a motion that the federal government should introduce what it called first option policy of purchasing what is manufactured in Nigeria instead of importation of these products.

National Mirror with additional report from Shipping Day


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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