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“How FOU impounded over 11,000 bags of rice”- Turaki

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…May increase use of APC, to combat smuggling

ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIER (APC) BELONGING TO THE NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE USED FOR THE OPERATION

ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIER (APC) BELONGING TO THE NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE USED FOR THE OPERATION

The concerted efforts towards creating a gloomy yuletide for smugglers, especially in the South west may have begun to unfold, even as the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) celebrates the seizure of over 11,000 bags of rice, recently snatched at Igbesan Creek, in Ogun State.

First, the use of armoured personnel carriers may become the order of the day; harnessing the supports and assistance of relevant commands and sisterly agencies would be prioritized; increased motivation of personnel may rise, to make them more daring; just as more emphasis is to be placed on the use of intelligence, amongst others.

Broaching on the subject, the new FOU Controller, Deputy Comptroller, Turaki Usman Adamu, while inspecting the massive seizure last Tuesday, highlighted that there was already a “paradigm shift” in the operational methodologies and modalities of the Zone ‘A’, Unit; all in bid to boost the war against smuggling.

The Controller confirmed that they now rely more on intelligence report; and which in this particular instance, posited that smugglers were planning to use the creeks to bring in large quantities of rice from Benin Republic; noting also, that it was on this basis that the Lagos roving team led by AC Adamu Abubakar Mohammed fashioned out operational modalities to ensure that there was no leakage of information to the smugglers, while embarking on a deadly three-day ambush for the consignment, before the smugglers walked into the net.

“It is pertinent to point out that the area is reputed as both volatile and inaccessible particularly for Customs and several attempts to raid the place, as efforts in the past were met with stiff opposition from the hostile smugglers. We must place on record that they have attacked Customs patrol teams that attempted in the past to stop their nefarious activities.

“On arrival at the scene of crime, we started evacuation, even though we faced challenge of unmotorable terrain. On completion of evacuation, we destroyed the instrumentality of crime i.e the wooden boats, their storage facilities, and out board engines etc. This is aimed at frustrating their future attempts” he stated, adding that the communal head ironically endorsed smuggling.

“It is actually amazing to understand the naivety of the Baale of the Community who from all indications seem not to know that smuggling is an Economic crime. He told us point blank that smuggling is their only means of survival as the proceeds there from are used for developing their community. I was perplexed at that and I want to use this opportunity to urge the media both print and electronic to embark on mass education and sensitization using local dialect to disseminate information on the dangers of smuggling” he noted.

“It is instructive to point out that the FOU ‘A’ had to roll out its Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) for these operations in view of the volatile nature of the terrain. These tanks were rolled out with the express permission of the CGC, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde CFR who clearly understands the nature of such assignment. The Lagos Roving Team met stiff opposition from the smugglers, hence the need for reinforcement from the neighbouring Commands of Ogun and Seme, as well as the Military, NSCDC, Navy and others who provided Security for the evacuation of the consignment. The rampaging smugglers were contained by our operatives who brought the experiences from their various trainings to bare. Even though the smugglers engaged our operatives in a shootout, the combined Team of our operatives over powered them with their superior fire power”, he stated further, pointing out that te value of the impounded 11,264  bags of illegally imported 50kg foreign parboiled rice was N56,320,000.00; while with the Duty Paid Value (DPV) it came to N95,744,000.00.

Turaki lauded the increasing motivations and equipment provision by the Customs high command, stressing that with the gestures, the officers and men of the Unit were fully determined, even more than ever, to take the war against smuggling to the deadliest and most volatile parts of the South West.

He also promised that the Unit would continue to strategize on how to sustain its present anti-smuggling tempo particularly at this “ember months” to guide against complacency; and expressed his deep sense of appreciation to the entire officers/men, particularly the Lagos roving team for raising the ante in anti-smuggling.

“As daunting as the challenge of suppressing smuggling may be, we will continue to face it with unrelenting determination and will remain resolute in our attempt to suppress it to the barest minimum. The relentless commitment and tireless effort of officers and men of this unit is quite commendable” he concluded, highlighting that he would now seriously reappraise all the identified flash points along the creeks and other illegal routes, in an aim of entrenching aggressive patrol activities there.

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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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