Connect with us
>

Archives

FG opens special account for recovered loot

Published

on

The Federal Government has set up an account for the stolen funds it recovered in the last one year. The Muhammadu Buhari-led government revealed on Saturday that N78, 325,354,631.82; $185,119,584.61; £3,508,355.46 and €11, 250 had been recovered from alleged looters, an amount which adds up to over N115.7bn using the official exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Speaking on Sunday, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, said an account had been set up for the funds.The funds were said to have been recovered separately by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation; Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission and the Department of State Services.

“An account has been set up for it and at an appropriate time, what is going to be done with the money will be made public. The amount that is available in that account will be announced and what will be done with the money will be publicly announced,” he said. The committee chairman, however, said the N1.9tn in cash and assets, which had been frozen by the Federal Government, were still under legal contention and thus could not be touched.

He added, “Regarding the funds frozen under the interim forfeiture, the Federal Government can’t touch it for now because certain cases have not been concluded and the forfeiture is interim because technically, the court can order the release to the owners if the occasion demands it but if it goes the other way, there will be a permanent forfeiture order and that is when the properties would accrue to the government and would therefore be used for the benefit of Nigerians.” Regarding the naming of alleged looters, Sagay said there was no legal impediment in shaming alleged thieves. The renowned legal practitioner added that the decision not to name looters was more political than legal. He stated that the decision not to name looters was made in a bid to encourage others, who had stolen, to return money.

Sagay said, “The way I see it, it is more political than legal. It is not party politics but about conduct. I believe the government feels that if you name names, those who are about to come out and also bring out whatever has been looted, would withdraw. “On the legal side, I don’t see the problem that is being talked about because once a person is going to be charged to court for corruption or illegally acquiring resources, there is no liability in announcing it.

“After all, we have been seeing the names of all those accused and charged. So, the main reason is to encourage others, who are still hiding their loot and speculating what to do, to come out and hand over the loot so that the country can recover more of what has been stolen.” He added that the decision not to name looters might also have been in a bid not to embarrass some Nigerians who received government funds without knowing that the money was for arms or that the money was stolen. Some of those who fall under this category, he explained, were newspapers who received money from the Office of the National Security Adviser but later returned the funds.

He said, “There are some people who actually received those assets and money without knowing that it was stolen or whose knowledge of the source would be very difficult to establish. “So, if you are in a situation, where you thought your political party had raised money legitimately and you were given an amount for the purpose of campaign, then you may have a strong case against any criminal charge like the newspapers, who have received money, but you may be willing to return the money having found out that it was illegitimately acquired.” Meanwhile, the Federal Government has concluded plans to spend the recovered looted funds on the development of the nation’s infrastructure, The PUNCH has learnt.

The infrastructure on which the money would be spent includes roads and railways among others. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, disclosed this to one of our correspondents in an interview on Sunday. Adesina was asked how the Federal Government planned to spend the recovered funds as indicated on Saturday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Adesina said, “The President said it sometimes ago in Kaduna that recovered money would be spent on the development of infrastructure. The infrastructure includes roads and railways among others.

“Nigerians can be assured that the money would be spent transparently and judiciously. They have nothing to fear. “These funds would be spent to better the lives of Nigerians; this is what this government is committed to.”

The government’s target is to recover N386bn of looted fund this year. This figure is stated in the 2016 Appropriation Act, which has been signed into law by Buhari.

The money, it was stated in the document, would be used to finance budget deficit. Buhari had, last Monday, said he had decided to stop talking publicly on the $2.1bn arms deal because doing so might lead to a situation where the government would realise less than the figure it wanted to recover. The President spoke while hosting State House correspondents to a lunch as part of activities marking his one year in office.

“The most recent one which, we haven’t recovered from, is the $2.1bn which was given by the government then to the military to buy hardware to fight the insurgency which had taken over part of the country and they just sat, just the way you are sitting now, and shared the money into their own accounts. They didn’t even bother,’’ the President stated.

Archives

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

Published

on

…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. 

Continue Reading

Archives

Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Archives

Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

Published

on

…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

Continue Reading

Advertisement

Editor’s Pick

Politics