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Judges handling Kashamu’s, Stella Oduah’s, ex-NIMASA chief’s cases transferred

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  • As Presidency says Buhari won’t interfere in close associate’s Arms probe case

LITIGANTS with cases at the Federal High Court in Lagos have to wait as the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has approved the transfer of some judges to other divisions.

Among those leaving the Lagos Division are Justice Okon Abang, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke and Justice Musa Kurya.

Justice Abang, who barred the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) from arresting Senator Buruji Kashamu for illicit drug dealing allegations, was transferred to Abuja.

His pending cases are: Former Presidential Adviser Kingsley Kuku Vs. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Honeywell Group Vs. Ecobank Plc.

Justice Yunusa, who granted the order restraining anti-graft agencies from arresting former Aviation Minister Princess Stella Oduah, was transfered to Enugu State.

Justice Aneke was transfered to Benue, while Justice Kurya to Plateau.

Justice Ibrahim Buba, expected to be moved to the North, will remain in Lagos.

Among cases before Justice Buba is: Former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)  Patrick Akpobolokemi, on trial for fraud.

With the transfers, cases before the judges would begin afresh (de novo).

It was learnt that some litigants were unhappy that their cases would be further delayed.

A human rights group, Access to Justice (A2Justice) decried the transfers, saying such “arbitrary and routine” transfers of judges affect the speedy dispensation of justice.

A2J lamented that the transfer of judges, who have commenced but not completed trials, could have drastic and traumatising effects on litigants and escalate the cost of litigation.

“Such transfers of judges often times occur after the case has spent years on the docket of the court of the transferred judge,” it said.

According to A2J, to re-start cases that have spent years on a cause-list afresh is painful, agonising and hard on litigants.

“This would entail recalling witnesses and re-tendering evidence. Some of the cases affected  may also be fundamental rights cases, where issues of constitutional rights – including liberty or movement – may also be in question.

“These administrative transfers force litigants to outspend themselves to resolve disputes or find remedies, in view of additional expenses involved in re-litigating a matter.

“Transfers take their toll on, and burden witnesses too, some of whom may be unable, on health or other grounds, to return to court to give evidence again.

“When witnesses are unable to reappear to give evidence and a case is thereby prejudiced, this perpetuates, replicates and amplifies negative public impressions about our court system and its ability to uphold the rule of law and dispense justice freely and efficiently.

“No person affected by these transfers would have a positive impression of the court or how the courts take their responsibility to dispense justice,” A2J said.

The group urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to “adopt and issue a clear, enforceable policy that prevents any judge from being transferred or relocated from his or her court or division without an impact assessment of the effect of such transfers on cases.”

In the meantime, the Presidency said, last night, that it would not interfere in the arrest and probe of a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, Jafaru Isah, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged involvement in the Dasukigate scandal.

Mr. Isa, Military Administrator of Kaduna State from December 1993 to August 1996, during the military regime of General Sani Abacha and one-time governorship candidate of the defunct CPC in Kano State, is the first chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to be arrested by the EFCC since the beginning of a sweeping probe into the alleged diversion of $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase by officials of the immediate-past administration.

An aide of the President told Vanguard in confidence that although Jafaru Isah was a close political ally to President Buhari, the first citizen would nonetheless remain neutral in the matter, in line with his avowed position to deal decisively with corruption.

While describing Isah as a political ally, who had been with Buhari from the days of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, to the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the aide made it clear that the long relationship did not in any way suggest that Buhari was associated with the alleged collection of N100 million from the Office of the National Adviser, ONSA, by the embattled politician.

The aid said: “It is true that Isah has been with Buhari from the days of the ANPP and CPC and was equally a member of the Transition Committee and actually headed the Defence Committee.

That does not mean that Buhari knows anything about the N100 million said to have been collected by the man from the ONSA.”

Jafaru is also described as a close friend of the embattled ex-NSA, Dasuki, who is facing multiple charges over alleged money laundering and breach of public trust in three courts.

It could not be established last night whether Jafaru was given the N100m by Dasuki for some contracts or because of his closeness to the former NSA or both. Jafaru was arrested at his Abuja residence located on Ajayi Crowther Street, Asokoro by operatives of the anti-graft commission around 9pm on Wednesday when he failed to honour an invitation to clear the air on some payments traced to him from the ONSA.

Jafaru is said to have resorted to writing a letter to the commission asking for more time to attend to a family burial instead of reporting to the EFCC.

Rather than honouring the invitation, sources said he wrote a letter to the EFCC through his lawyer, seeking a postponement of his appearance date on the grounds of death of a relative.

Nation with additional report from Vanguard.

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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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