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Jonathan to face trial if there’s evidence, says Anti-corruption panel



  • As EFCC plans to summon Adoke over fresh NSA contracts

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, has faulted a former Minister of National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, regarding the culpability of former President Goodluck Jonathan in the current anti-corruption cases.

Suleiman, who is the spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party Ministers’ Forum, had said in a Sunday PUNCH interview that Jonathan could not be held liable because no stolen funds had been traced to the ex-president’s personal bank accounts. The ex-minister had said, “All these issues of corruption under Jonathan happened between March and April last year. It was purely an election issue. Nobody has traced any money to Jonathan’s account up till now, but money was traced to Abacha’s accounts.”

However, Sagay told one of our correspondents during an interview on Sunday that although he could not say if there was a case against Jonathan or not yet, the ex-President could be held liable if it could be established that Jonathan made illegal approvals for funds to be paid into other people’s accounts. He said if, for instance, it could be established that Jonathan gave the Central Bank of Nigeria a directive to pay someone money and the person was not deserving of that money, then the ex-President could be indicted.

Sagay, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, added, “Only the EFCC can say if Jonathan is culpable. Guilt in criminal law requires proof and there must be evidence. So, what I would say is that if a case can be established against Jonathan as regards public funds, then he has a case to answer. “I don’t know if that has been done. I have not seen anybody who says he was given the money by Jonathan himself although one can say that instructions to any institution that public funds should be released to other people for purposes, which those funds were not designated, is in itself a criminal affair. “So, it is not only when money is found on you that you have a case to answer. If you are a person in authority, and you issue directives to people under you, who are keeping public funds like the Governor of the Central Bank, and an illegal order is given to him for the release of funds, that, in itself, will raise a case for Jonathan to answer if in fact he issued such an order.”

Another SAN, Mr. Yusuf Ali, said it was too early to exonerate anyone as investigations into corruption that took place under the previous administration were still ongoing. Ali stated, “The whole process is ongoing. Investigations are still ongoing. Until somebody is convicted, nothing bad can be said about such person. I believe when we get to the bridge, we shall cross it. “There is no point for anybody to be excited or be happy for now until the whole story is in the open. Investigations are ongoing.”

On his part, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, described Suleiman’s statement as provocative and highly irresponsible. Ogunye said the fact that a number of persons, who served under the Jonathan administration, were facing criminal trial was enough grounds to charge the former President with conspiracy. According to Ogunye, Jonathan, as the head of the executive arm, had liability for everything done by his subordinates because the buck stopped at his table. Ogunye said, “That statement by him is provocative and highly irresponsible. And the reason I say that is that former President Goodluck Jonathan was the head of the executive arm of government at the time he presided over the affairs of the country.

“All the officials that are being held to account and during whose trials, as we speak, Nigerians are now learning about the mind-boggling  stealing or looting of public treasury, were answerable to him; they were running his errands and therefore Nigerians expect that being the person on whose table the buck stopped as of the time he was the President, that he would be able to superintend them and ensure that those his subordinates didn’t loot the nation’s treasury. “It’s too early in the day for any Suleiman or anybody to give the former President or any other member of that administration a clean bill of health. When you are talking about no money has been traced to former President Goodluck Jonathan, what does it mean?

“On his instruction and while he was running for office, people turned our national security vote into a bazaar and they were giving this money out to his allies and acolytes. So, whose errand were those people running when they were distributing the money? Who wanted to become the President then? And based on those revelations alone, he is culpable, contrary to the claims of Suleiman that nothing has been traced to him.

“Can’t the former President be charged with conspiracy? He can, on the basis of those revelations because for what purpose was the money given to those people? On the strength of that alone, a charge of conspiracy can be sustained against the former President.

“For anybody to be annoying Nigerians with such a statement that nothing has been traced to the former President, one wonders what he was thinking. This is not theatrics, we are talking about things that have wrecked this country and then people are engaging in ludicrous polemics.”

In the meantime, there are strong indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will as from this week start inviting individuals and firms that were indicted over a fresh contract scam in the office of the National Security Adviser.

Investigations on Saturday showed that the commission on resumption of work on Tuesday would start sending invitations to those concerned in batches and that they would be required to appear before the commission beginning from April 4.

It was gathered that the first batch would consist of 20 firms and individuals including Julius Berger Plc; a former Accountant General of the Federation Mr. Jonah Otunla, and Brig.-Gen. A.S.Mormoni-Bashir.

According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Sheu Garba, Otunla and Mormoni-Bashir were listed among those allegedly received payments without contractual agreements, while Julius Berger came under the list of companies that failed to execute or partially executed contracts.

A source in the EFCC, who confided in our reporter, said, “As soon as we resume on Tuesday, we will start processing invitations that will be sent to at least 20 individuals and firms. They will start coming to the commission as from April 4.

Attempts to get the comments of the former Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, were unsuccessful as calls made to his phone did not go through.
Similarly, a text message sent to his mobile phone was not delivered.

Also, efforts to get the Head, Media Relations Office, Julius Berger, Mr. Moses Duku, on Saturday were not successful as he neither answered calls made to his mobile phone, nor replied a text message sent to him, up till the time of filing this report.

But some officials of the company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, had on Friday said that the firm would react on Tuesday.

 Punch with additional report from Upshot


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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