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FOU Owerri records 17 Seizures worth over N196m in January

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  • Ijaw group gives Dickson 7 days to revoke allocation of land to herdsmen

Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’, an anti smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Owerri, in the month of January 2017, impounded 17 distinct contraband goods, and recovered 21 underpayments with a total sum of N194,656,855.

The Customs Area Controller in charge of the Unit, Comptroller Mohammed, Uba Garba who confirmed this while showcasing the seized items at the premises of the Customs Warehouse Enugu also highlighted that 18 suspects were arrested, in connection with the seizures which took place along Owerri, Benin, Enugu and Calabar axis.

“Owerri has once more demonstrated its determination to stem out the tide of smuggling of contraband goods into  the country”, Comptroller Mohammed stated.

thumbnail_IMG_7167Providing a breakdown of the seizures, Comptroller Mohammed Uba accounted for nine vehicles worth N35,900,920; 382 pieces of foreign smuggled used tyres valued at N6,288,000 and 3,077 bags of 50kg foreign rice estimated at N80,093,300 as confiscated by the command.

Expatiating on the dangers and the implications of the usage and consumption of the items in question by unsuspecting members of the public, Mohammed Uba warned that rice smuggling has the capacity to depress the nation’s economy because it reduces government’s revenue, stifles domestic rice industries, in addition to distorting supply and consumption data usually applied by the government as references for sound policy planning.

He further justified government ban on used tyres, stressing that such items from the more advanced nations of the world were compressed and discarded for use in their countries of manufacture, but later find their way into the country as a result of the activities of the smugglers who in turn sell them to members of the public because of their perceived cheap prices.

Echoing the Comptroller’s view, the Command’s image maker, Assistant Supretendent of Customs Onuigbo, Ifeoma Ojekwu noted that figure actually consisted of a combination of an overall Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N122,282,220 and a recovered underpayment of N72,374,635.

In the meantime, a coalition of Ijaw groups across the Niger Delta region on the platform of Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, yesterday, gave the Bayelsa State governor, Mr Seriake Dickson, a seven-day ultimatum to revoke the allocation of 1,200 hectares of land the state government allocated to Fulani herdsmen for grazing or face a mass shutdown of all government facilities across the state.

Also, mothers of Ijaw nation, led by Niger Delta activist, Ms AnnKio Briggs, have slated a mass protest in Yenagoa, the state capital, on February 14, to occupy the state until Governor Dickson rescinds his decision.

Other Ijaw mothers, who resolved at a meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to  occupy Bayelsa from February 14 are the leader of  Ijaw Women Council, IWC, Rosemary Naingba, aka Aweke-Ere I,  national legal adviser, Borno Fetepigi Obhe, national secretary, Mrs. Ebisidor Bribebe, chairman, IWC, Eastern zone, Mrs. Brassba

IPDI, in a statement by its acting spokesperson, Mr. Mayor Ogobiri, said: “We are giving Governor Dickson seven days ultimatum to revoke Bayelsa land allocated to herdsmen or face mass shut down of all government facilities across the state because we do not want a repeat of the massacre that happened recently at Southern Kaduna in our state.

“We are warning Governor Dickson that the blood of any Bayelsan is worth much more than thousands of cows. He should fight for human rights and not animal rights. “It is unfortunate that Dickson is now carried away by his pursuit for Northern relationship and more political power at the national level come 2019 and he is blind to the activities of the marauding herdsmen, which pose grave danger to peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.

“The act of the Bayelsa State Government is treacherous and a clear betrayal of Bayelsans who voted him to power. This is a critical period in our nation. We do not want our women raped and killed, we do not want our children defiled, we do not want our kings to be kidnapped and killed,and we do not want AK-47 wielding herdsmen within Bayelsa State.

“We want to unequivocally state that Dickson is inviting terrorists to Bayelsa State by allocating grazing lands to killer- squads under the guise of herdsmen. If we may ask, how many free fishing rivers and farmlands have Northern governors allocated to southerners to carry out fishing and farming businesses in the North?

“Dickson is doing eye service to the Northerners for political alignment. He is exposing the Ijaw of Bayelsa State to unnecessary danger, we now live in fear. We will wage war against Dickson within the confines of the law on his genocidal mission against the future of Ijaw people.”

Additional report from Vanguard

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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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