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FOU Owerri Impounds N256m Poultry, Smuggled In ‘DHL’ Truck

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  •  As 19 militants are held after NAF jets destroy four camps in S’West

The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’, an anti smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in Owerri has impounded 24,273 cartons of imported frozen poultry products with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N256,264,200.

The Command also detained a ‘DHL’ truck used in smuggling it, in a renewed onslaught against illicit traders, which also saw three suspects arrested.

Mamudu Haruna

Mamudu Haruna, CAC, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’

“The items which were cleverly and deceitfully concealed in a Scania truck with an inscription ‘DHL’ were intercepted on the Benin axis in Edo State”, disclosed the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Haruna Mamudu, while briefing newsmen at the Customs Warehouse in Benin City.

He spoke of the consequences usually associated with the consumption of foreign frozen poultry products preserved with chemicals meant for preservation of dead bodies and regretted that despite resultant number of untimely deaths as a result of consistent consumption of chemicals, Nigerians were still patronizing the smuggled poultry products.

“We have continued to ensure maximum media publicity in respect of the dangers posed to human health by imported frozen poultry products. We have severally warned those still engrossed in the illicit business to desist forthwith in their own interest or face the full weight of the law. So, anyone arrested in connection with this, would be visited by the full weight of the law”, the Deputy Comptroller in charge of Enforcement, Mr. Oladesu Shola who actually represented the CAC, stated further, expressing shock that while the Nigeria Customs had remained resolute, consistent and diligent in the war against smuggling, those involved in the unpatriotic act had continued to devise and perfect many plans to achieve their illegal ambitions.

He however boasted that the NCS is now well fortified, better equipped, trained and adequately motivated to deal decisively with smugglers wherever they operate with superlative intelligence gathering system and unit.

He assured that those already in the Customs’ net would undergo a thorough investigation and if found culpable would be made to face the music accordingly.

thumbnail_IMG_4499[1]“We are now talking of a change but regrettably these smugglers are not ready to embrace the change meant for the betterment of our country. We have no other country called ours and therefore, all hands must be to the pump to salvage it,” he said.

In the meantime, pilots of the Nigerian Air Force fighter jets have destroyed the four major camps of suspected militants, who are said to be armed pipeline vandals at Arepo, Ogun State, on the fourth day of the sustained aerial attacks on the hoodlums in the area.

The Director of Information and Public Relations of the NAF, Group Capt. Ayodele Famuyiwa, told The PUNCH on the telephone on Sunday that the NAF was intensifying aerial operations during the day and the night to dislodge the militants terrorising riverside communities of Ogun and Lagos states.

Famuyiwa said the NAF was carrying out sustained operations against the vandals to prepare the stage for the ground troops to move in and get rid of the gunmen.

Investigation revealed that the fighter pilots of the NAF had carried out successful strikes on the two major camps in the Fatola and Abuja and two other areas.

Famuyiwa said the embattled militants were fleeing their fortress into the mangrove forest and were being monitored effectively by platforms deployed for the operation.

The Air Force spokesman explained that the NAF had carried out surveillance activities on the hoodlums to gather the necessary information about their activities before the commencement of the current aerial bombardments.

He said the fighter pilots were using rockets against the vandals because they built their tents on pipelines, which made it difficult to use bombs in the operation.

Famuyiwa stated that bombs could destroy pipelines apart from the fact that those dropped on water might not explode immediately and could become a problem in future.

He said, “So, for now, it is just the Air Force that is operating in that area. We started with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance basically, to gather information about the position of those people, how fortified are they, and to look into the things that they are doing.

“After that survey, we have been able to identify targets to be eliminated. The first strike was conducted on Thursday. We struck at their camps and the whole essence is to take them up so that we can dislodge them from that area pending the time that the surface forces would be able to come in.

“So, every day, we have been striking and we are doing both night and day operation. There are about four camps that have been identified, that we have struck.

“The challenge is that you need to be able to match your targets with your weapons. Don’t forget that those idiots built their tents on the pipelines. It appears that it is not something that started today, it is something that has been on for years.’’

Famuyiwa added, “When we hit those camps, they are now moving deeper into the forest. So we cannot say that you can just dislodge them for a while, they might want to come back. So what we are doing is that we have intensified our surveillance activities to bomb them deep into the mangrove forest.

“Like I said, they are very crafty people, they have built their camps, on the pipelines to be able siphon fuel. So, what we are doing is to use rockets to fire at them; you can get some level of destruction of the tents but you may not destroy the tents completely, but you can be sure that any human element that is there, it is going to kill them.”

Famuyiwa explained further that video clips from the aerial offensive against the militants showed that they were well armed and very organised.

According to him, they had GPMG mounted on canoes on their observation posts, which showed that they had been involved in the vandalisation of the pipelines for long.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, told one of our correspondents on Saturday that the military would sustain the operations to ensure that the camps of the vandals were removed.

However, neither Famuyiwa nor Abubakar could give the casualty figure in the four-day aerial pounding of the hideouts of the hoodlums.

A source involved in the operation said on Sunday that there was continuing rocket fire while ground troops and other security agents were in strategic locations in the area.

The source said the armed vandals were holed up in the area and could not provide any resistance to the military onslaught on them.

“The operation is not over. These guys are still inside there. The military is still pounding their locations.

“You know that the terrain is very difficult, you can only get there with canoes but the troops have blocked the entire place. Only the military can tell you when ground forces will move in,” Abubakar stated.

No fewer than 19 suspected militants have been arrested by operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the ongoing aerial bombardment of creeks in the Fatola and Arepo areas of Ogun State.

It was gathered that some of the suspects were apprehended while fleeing from their camps being shelled by the Nigerian military.

Although the military had assured residents of the areas of safety, the operation had created panic among some people in the areas. While some residents had fled their homes, others were forced to remain indoors.

It was learnt that while the operation continued, operatives, comprising the police, NSCDC, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Army mounted roadblocks at strategic places that could be used as escape routes by the militants.

An official of the NSCDC, Lagos State Command, who participated in the operations, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that 19 militants were in the corps’ custody.

He said, “Nineteen militants were arrested around the Ishawo, Igbo Olomu and Elepete areas of Ikorodu on Saturday and Sunday. Some of them were caught after fleeing from the areas being bombarded while others were arrested based on information by residents. NSCDC officials from Ondo, Ogun and Oyo states are with us. We are about150. The bombardment is still on.”

The spokesperson for the NSCDC, Lagos State Command, Kehinde Bada, confirmed the arrest, adding that investigation was ongoing.

She said, “It was a joint operation involving our men, the police, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force. So far, we have arrested 19 suspected militants, some of who fled their base, having realised their game was up.”

Additional report from Punch

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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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