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ICPC arraigns ex-governor Yerima for N1bn fraud

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  • As Chiefs reject Seriki’s claim to Olubadan throne

The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission on Thursday arraigned former Governor Sani Yerima of Zamfara State before a Gusau High Court over an allegation that he misapplied over N1bn while in office in 2006.

Yerima is standing trial on a 19-count charge bordering on misappropriation of funds, according to theNews Agency of Nigeria.

Counsel for the ICPC, Mr. Mashkur Salisu, said the money was a bank loan meant for the repair of the collapsed Gusau Dam and the payment of compensations to the victims affected by the incident.

Salisu alleged that Yerima diverted the money to other purposes.

The offence, he said, is contrary to, and punishable under section 25 (1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

Also charged with Yerima were Alhaji Hashim Dikko, and two companies – Development Management Ltd. and HAD Nigeria Limited.

They were also accused of misapplication and overshooting of the contract sum for the supply of assorted grains to the Federal Government, amounting to hundreds of millions of naira.

All the accused persons pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Mahmoud Abubakar, who led eight other lawyers to appear for the accused persons, pleaded with the court to grant them bail on self recognition with an assurance that they would not jump bail.

Justice Bello Shinkafi granted bail to each of the accused persons in the sum of N100m and two sureties in like sum.

Shinkafi ruled that each of the sureties must own landed properties worth N150m, while they must be resident in Gusau and he adjourned the case till February 29 and March 1, 2016 for hearing.

Speaking to newsmen after the court session, Yerima alleged that the case was instituted against him by his ‘political enemies’, adding that ‘we will use politics to fight back’.

It will be recalled that in 2000, one Buba Jangebe was amputated in Zamfara after he was found guilty of stealing a cow during the tenure of Yerima.

In the meantime, Ibadan chiefs yesterday queued up behind Chief Saliu Adetunji to succeed the late Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1 as Olubadan.

The leader of the Seriki Line, Chief Adebayo Oyediji, is laying claim to the throne.

The Olubadan-in-Council yesterday held a meeting at the palace of Oba Odulana  insisting that Adetunji will be the Olubadan-designate.

At the meeting were  Adetunji; the Otun Olubadan, Senator Lekan Balogun; the Otun Balogun, Chief Owolabi Olakulehin; Ashipa Olubadan, Chief Eddy Oyewole; Osi Balogun, Chief Olufemi Olaifa and Ashipa Balogun, Chief Abimbola Ajibola.

Ajibola, who spoke shortly after the meeting, said it was undisputed that Adetunji is the authentic Olubadan-in-waiting.

“ Any other one is a counterfeit,” he said, adding: “In this institution, we have lines. There are only two lines recognised so far, both by law and otherwise. They are the Otun Olubadan Line and the Balogun Line. There is no third line.

“Nobody is competent to say he can be Olubadan. He cannot appoint himself. He cannot put himself there. We are not aware of any judgment that he is claiming because there is no Seriki or whatever. The 1959 Declaration Law says: Seriki, if there are two vacancies in one line, should come there. No other judgment can overrule the law; that is the law.They have no Seriki now.”

He noted that the only recognised Seriki then was the late Chief Adisa Akinloye, adding that since he died, there had been no execution and no awareness.

Ajibola wondered: “How can they say they want to be Olubadan? Who is going to sign for them? All the members of the council will not sign for whoever they (Seriki Line) propose. Who is going to sign for them?.

“The governor will not even listen to them. Whoever we present to be Olubadan as kingmakers, the governor is going to follow. Are they going to sign for themselves? They are not part of our meeting. We have never had any meeting with them. They have not been promoted.

“What they should do, they should do it right away in time. They did not ask Olubadan before he was late to promote them. So, there is nobody competent so far to lay claim (from the Seriki Line).”

According to him, there is no vacancy as the succession ladder.

“Well, we have filled the vacancies. There is no existing vacancy. Where are they going to come in? At the moment, the only person competent to come in would have been Seriki and there is none. This Chief Oyediji, claiming he wants to be Olubadan is only the Osi Seriki. He has not been promoted,” Ajibola said.

“He should apply to Olubadan to promote him first, before he starts arguing. He has no locus. The governor knows the right thing. He won’t listen.”

he Head of the acclaimed line, Chief Adebayo Oyediji, and five others yesterday filed a motion seeking an order compelling the government and the Olubadan-In-Council to instal Oyediji as the Olubadan.

Oyediji, 89, and others based their prayer on a 1989 Supreme Court judgment, which ordered the recognition of the Seriki as the third line to produce the Olubadan.

According to him and the motion filed by his lawyer, A.G. Adeniran, before the Oyo state Chief Judge, Justice Mukthar Abimbola, the Olubadan -in-Council had since 1989 when the Seriki line obtained a Supreme Court judgment in their favour, denied them the opportunity of being admitted into the Olubadan line.

The businessman alleged disregard for rule of law on the part of the Olubadan -in-Council. He said he was the next to be installed Olubadan based on the said judgment.

The motion will be heard next Wednesday.

Punch with additional report from Nation

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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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