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FOU Owerri Impounds Over N145m Worth Of Contraband Goods



  • As EFCC Lines Up 25 Witnesses Against Tompolo, in fresh N22.7bn Charges

The new head of Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘C’, a Customs anti-smuggling arm in Oweeri , Comptroller Haruna Mamudu has impounded contraband goods with an overall Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N145,165,705, barely one week, after he assumed office .

The new Customs Area Comptroller (CAC) who just took over from Victor David Dimka, who was deployed to Seme Border command also warned smugglers operating in the zone to desist, because if Dimka scourged them with cane, he would skin them with scorpions.

Ifeoma Onuigbo, PRO FOU command, Zone C

Ifeoma Onuigbo, PRO FOU command, Zone C

“Corruption is no more a welcome word in NCS not to talk of FOU Zone C” he highlighted at the weekend, as he confirmed that the Seizures which occurred on the Benin Express Way, the Aba-Eleme –Port Harcourt Road and the Aba-Eleme axis included  1,500 cartons of poultry products, with a DPV of N21m was concealed with scaffolding irons, big empty drums and wheel barrows.
There was also, a truck load of 156 jumbo bales of second hand clothing with a DPV of N26,892,000.

Equally impounded was a truck load of fake and unregistered medicament comprising of 190 cartons of Tremadol, 10 bags of sodium lauryl sulphate, 30 bags of potassium Chloride, 10 bags fatty alcohol and 39 bags of sodium citrate with a DPV of N87,298,105, aside from 1,700 pairs of shoes with a DPV of N2,778,000; 115 pieces of used tyres with DPV of N624,000 and assorted foreign soap/cosmetics with DPV of N6,573,600.

“These (smugglers) people are not helping the economy” Mamudu told newsmen at the weekend, stressing that the three suspects arrested with the contraband goods would be properly prosecuted, to serve as deterrent, to those still neck deep, in illicit trades.

“Those who won’t desist, should be prepared to face the consequences if caught”, Comptroller Mamudu warned, noting that the NCS is poised to ensure zero tolerance for corruption as has been enunciated by the Comptroller-General of Customs Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd.).

Similarly, the Comptroller advised members of the public who incubate the notorious habit of consuming imported poultry products to purge themselves of it, emphasizing that the relatively cheap frozen poultry usually imported through Cotonou are preserved with lethal substances, especially chemicals meant for preserving dead bodies thereby, making them harmful and unfit for human consumption.

“More so, Some people use the smuggling of foreign poultry products for money laundering, but now the forex is no longer there,” he stated, decrying the continued degeneration of the nation’s economy; a reason he noted, has compelled the NCS to apply strictest measures to block all areas of leakages, so as to meet up with its revenue target.

He urged officers and men of the zone to re-dedicate themselves to duty to meet the high requirements of the new change in administration in the country as Nigeria would no longer serve as dumping ground, for any sub standard goods.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed fresh 22 charges against an ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, and 12 others.

The charges, which were filed on Friday at a Federal High Court in Lagos, bordered on stealing, advanced fee fraud and money laundering to the tune of N22,765,900,000.

The fresh charges were filed eight days after Justice Ibrahim Buba ordered the arrest of Tompolo for his failure to appear on January 14, 2016 to take his plea on a separate 40 counts of alleged N34bn fraud earlier filed against him and nine others by the EFCC.

In the fresh charges, which had yet to be assigned to any judge, the EFCC listed 25 witnesses that will testify against Tompolo and his 12 co-suspects when the trial begins.

Among the witnesses are seven EFCC investigators, officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, officials of the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, and officials of the Bureau of Public Procurement.

Also to testify against the suspects are officials of four commercial banks including Access Bank, First Bank, Zenith Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc.

Those to be arraigned alongside Tompolo in the fresh 22 counts is a former Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, whose four brothers – Victor, Nobert, Emmanuel and Clement – who are still at large, were alleged to have aided the suspects to commit the fraud.

The other suspects are Kime Engozu, Josephine Otuaga, Rita Uruakpa and Pondi Kestin.

Also joined as defendants in the charges are seven companies – Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd/GTE, Oyeinteke Global Network Ltd, Wabod Global Resources Ltd, Boloboere Properties Estate Ltd, Gokaid Marine Oil and Gas Ltd, Muhaabix Global Services Ltd and Watershed Associated Resources.

The suspects were said to have fraudulently converted various sums, running into over N22.7bn, stolen from NIMASA, to their personal use between December 12, 2014 and April 10, 2015.

They were also accused of defrauding the Federal Government by making false representations, which they knew to be untrue, in order to obtain money from the government.

The offences are said to be contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3)of the same Act.

The charge sheet, signed by Festus Keyamo, also indicated that the suspects violated various sections of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 including its sections 15(3) and 18(a) and were liable to punishment under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The suspects were also said to be liable to punishment under Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

In count two, the EFCC alleged that the suspects “between the December 2, 2014 and April 10, 2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to defraud, induced the Federal Government of Nigeria to deliver to you, the aggregate sum of N11, 900,000,000.00 by falsely pretending to the Federal Government of Nigeria that all that land and its appurtenances lying, being and situate at the Mieka Dive Training Institute, Kurutie, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, to be acquired by NIMASA for the temporary Campus of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Warri South-West Local Government Area, is free from any encumbrances, which representation you knew to be false, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section (1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3)of the same Act.”

Akpobolokemi is scheduled to appear on Friday before Justice Saliu Saidu of a Federal High Court in Lagos, where he was first arraigned on December 3, 2015 alongside nine others on 30 counts of stealing and money laundering to the tune of N3.4bn.

His trial before Justice Buba, where he was arraigned along with five others on December 4, 2015 on 22 counts of alleged N2.6bn fraud, commenced last week with the EFCC calling three witnesses.

The case was adjourned till February 2, 2016.

Akpobolokemi is also scheduled to appear before Justice Buba on February 8, 2016 alongside nine others, including Tompolo, who was ordered to be arrested and produced in court on the hearing date.

Additional report from Punch


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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