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Jonathan turned CBN into ATM – Soludo

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  • As Tompolo explains: Why I’ve not gone to court on N34b issue

A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of turning the CBN into the Presidency’s Automated Teller Machine to produce cash for the government.

He also said the Jonathan administration ran the bank like a movie plot from Uganda under the late dictator, Idi Amin Dada.

Idi Amin ruled Uganda with an iron fist between 1971 and 1979, and has been described as one of the most corrupt African rulers.

In an interview in the current business edition of The Interview, Soludo described the CBN as “the ATM of the Presidency,” under Jonathan.

He said it was regrettable that in spite of the bank’s statutory independence, it continued to be a victim of high wire politics, often “electrocuting” its leadership.

Soludo said, “Recent revelations regarding the ‘arms-gate’ (short for the $2.1bn scandal involving the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki) and the apparent abuse of the CBN as an ATM by the Presidency should get reasonable people thinking.

“Imagine a scenario where a President can order the CBN to create an intervention fund for national stability and the CBN literally ‘prints’ say, N3tn, and doles it out as cash to the President to prosecute an election campaign, or for just about anything he fancies. It is a scary thought.

“We are going down a dangerous path that ruins the economy. I don’t know any other country where such is tolerated, except perhaps what I watched in a movie about Idi Amin and his governor of the central bank.”

The former CBN governor, according to a statement by the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview, Mr. Azu Ishiekwene, is one of the 10 leading business lights featured in the current edition of the magazine, which provides insights into opportunities and threats in business this year, ranging from manufacturing and power, to banking and investment, small businesses, advertising and jobs.

In the same edition of the magazine, the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, identified foreign exchange restrictions, infrastructure and high cost of business as the three biggest challenges to the nation’s economy.

The way forward, he said, “Is to look inwards for the supply of raw materials, prudent management and professionalisation of the workforce.”

Jacobs advised against increased taxes, recommending instead a “widening of the tax net” to improve government revenue.

In another development, a Leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpemupolo, has explained why he has not appeared in court on the alleged N34 billion fraud, for which an order of arrest was issued on him.

Ekpemupolo, in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, said he has nothing to do with the matter in court. He blamed his refusal to appear in court on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), its lawyer Festus Keyamo and some ex-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He accused ex-Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva of being after him.

Tompolo said: “The truth of the matter is that I do not know anything about the N34 billion Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is talking about. First, it was N13 billion issue, now it is N34 billion.

“I am not a signatory to any of the companies mentioned in the said N34 billion case, so I do not know where this one is coming from.

“I know that God in His infinite mercy will see me through in this critical moment.”

The letter sent to our reporter yesterday by his media aide, Comrade Paul Bebenimbo, accused the EFCC and its team of lawyers of using the case for personal vendetta against him.

Tompolo, who is accused of being behind destruction of oil facilities in Delta State, urged President Buhari to be wary of some of his party members in the Niger Delta, particularly those who left the PDP for the APC.

He said: “They (APC members) are the ones carrying out the act to smear my name. They are doing this in connivance with the EFCC lawyer, who is also a member of your party, who is in the forefront of prosecuting me because I refused to buy a property from him.”

“As for the EFCC lawyer, he approached me some years back that I should come to Abuja and Lagos to buy some choice property worth billions of naira from him. I told him that I do not have such money to buy property.

“Since then he has been looking for any opportunity to drag me into matters I do not know anything about. And this is one of the reasons why I have not appeared in the court because he is not qualified to prosecute me,” he added.

But Keyamo, when contacted, waved off Tompolo’s vendetta claim, stressing that the case was not a personal issue.

He urged Tompolo to take his defence to the law court.

On the ex-governor, he said: “I wish to inform you that it has come to my knowledge that the leader of your party and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa and a few young men from Warri South West council of Delta State, who joined the party from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the 2015 presidential election, are bent on linking me to the renewed vandalism of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, whereas they are the ones carrying out the act to smear my name. They are doing this in connivance with the EFCC lawyer.

“The leader of your party in Bayelsa State approached me shortly after my meeting with you in Abuja that I should accompany him to meet you and plead for him to be appointed special adviser (SA) and chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which I refused to do because of his antecedents, as an unreliable and trustworthy person.

“It was thereafter he forced his way into the governorship election of the state, which almost tore the state apart with violence, beginning with the party primary in which he demonstrated a high level of desperation as was recounted by the Chairman of the committee and Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

“As for members of the party from my local government area, Warri South-West, they have been involved in illegal bunkering and oil theft activities over the years, which I have been fighting against because of my love for country. They know me as a no-nonsense person. There is this one from Gbaramatu kingdom with me that has sworn to kill me because I refused to manipulate the ascension to our traditional stool in his favour when he was not even qualified for it. And so, he looks for any opportunity to deal with me.’’

Punch with additional report from The 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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