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International Bar Tasks Kenya Government On Lawyer’s Murder

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  • As Ex-Senate President stops impeachment plot against Buhari

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) on Tuesday indicated that the body would be on the neck of the Kenyan Government, until it brings to justice, those responsible for the deaths of lawyer, Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri.

The body which is of the opinion that the three were murdered by Kenya’s Administration Police (AP), hence it’s insistence that fishing out the culprits must be treated as a priority; subsequently joins appeals for an independent, impartial and effective criminal investigation to be held without delay.

“Extrajudicial killings are evidence of a serious erosion of the rule of law”, declared the IBAHRI Co-chair, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, emphasizing the body’s view on possible torture, resulting to death.

“We are horrified by what appears to be the targeted torture and killing of Mr Kimani, Mr Mwenda and Mr Muiruri as a result of the legitimate work Mr Kimani was conducting in the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“Those responsible must be prosecuted according to the gravity of the crimes and we demand that the Government take effective steps to guarantee the non-repetition of torture and extrajudicial killings. Such acts have no place in society.

“In the context of the observations and subsequent recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture addressed to Kenya in 2013 – to adequately train all law enforcement personnel, especially police officers, on the use of force; and to redouble its efforts to train the police on human rights – the IBAHRI calls on Kenya’s Government to implement these recommendations urgently and with conviction”, Baroness Kennedy highlighted, even as IBAHRI Co-Chair Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell posited that the development was a sad reminder of the deadly past.

“This case is a stark reminder that the work of lawyers can carry great risk.

“We remind the Kenyan Government of its duty to guarantee the security of all lawyers as they carry out their professional duties as stipulated in both the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa.

“It is incontestably the responsibility of governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference”, Corell stated further.

Mr Kimani had undertaken work with the non-governmental organisation International Justice Mission to provide legal assistance to Mr Mwenda, a young motorcycle taxi driver who was reportedly shot and injured in April 2015 by two plainclothes AP officers and was thereafter a victim of police threats and intimidation. On 23 June 2016, Mr Kimani and his client were leaving court when they were abducted and, along with their taxi driver Mr Muiruri, unlawfully detained and killed, allegedly at the hands of AP officers.

Eight days later, on 1 July 2016, the bodies of the three men were recovered from a river in Ol-Donyo Sabuk, bearing the marks of brutal violence.

In its concluding observations on the second periodic report of Kenya, the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern at ‘the persistent allegations of ongoing extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and excessive use of force by police officers, especially during “special operations”, as well as by the low rate of investigations and prosecutions of such acts'(paragraph 9); and ‘the persistent failure by the State party to promptly, impartially and effectively investigate all allegations of acts of torture and ill-treatment by police officers, and to prosecute the alleged perpetrators’ (paragraph 11).

Meanwhile, four AP officers have been arrested over the killings and have appeared before an appropriate court of law.

In the meantime, the intervention of the immediate past Senate President, David Mark, stopped the impeachment plot being hatched in the upper chamber against President Muhammadu Buhari by lawmakers loyal to Senate President Bukola Saraki.

This happened at the closed session of the federal lawmakers in Abuja on Tuesday. Our correspondent learnt that some members of the Senate, which met behind closed doors for one hour after its two-week recess, had, attempted to sack Buhari before Mark pleaded with them to save the chamber from another national embarrassment.

A Senator, who was in the closed session, confided in our correspondent that trouble started when the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, briefed the lawmakers about the assignment given to his committee.

He said his committee had been having great difficulties in getting the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to appear before it in order to explain why he initiated legal action against the Senate presiding officers for the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order 2015.

A ranking senator from the South-East was said to have suggested that a bench warrant be issued on Malami since it appeared that he was deliberately avoiding the Senate summons. Some of his colleagues in the Peoples Democratic Party, however, reminded him that the Inspector-General of Police might not want to carry out the order. They were said to have argued that the alleged involvement of the Presidency would frustrate the summons of the AGF by the red chamber.

The senator said it was at that point that the South-East senator, who was said to be on the floor, shouted, “Then let’s go for the man at the helm of affairs by initiating an impeachment immediately.” His suggestion was said to have received applause from his colleagues in the PDP and some like-minded senators, said to be loyal to Saraki.

It was learnt that Mark started pleading with his colleagues to forget about the idea, arguing that it could spell doom for the red chamber. While Mark was said to be appealing to his colleagues, some senators, said to be loyal to Saraki, began to appeal to their colleagues in the Senate Unity Forum, who initiated the forgery suit to withdraw the case in the interest of peace.

Some of the SUF members, who took the matter to court, were said to have explained that the matter was beyond them, a statement which was said to have infuriated Senator Dino Melaye, who urged the House to suspend the members since they were not ready to withdraw the suit.

Melaye’s statement was said to have annoyed Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who allegedly noted that the suggestion of the Kogi West Senator was childish, warning the senators against taking “kindergarten” steps that could tear the Senate into pieces. It was learnt that Melaye did not allow Tinubu to conclude her statement when he allegedly threatened to beat up the woman if she ever addressed him in that manner again.

“Do you think I am afraid of you or Bourdillon? I will f..k you up if you ever mess with me again,” Melaye allegedly said.

Melaye’s statement allegedly threw the closed session into a rowdy session before calm was eventually restored. Attempts to get official confirmation of the development from the Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi, failed as calls put across to his mobile did not connect while text messages sent to him were not responded to.

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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