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Lagos Sets To Smoke Out Rickety Vehicles

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  • As Bank, INEC officials refund N408.7m out of alleged N23.3b bribe

The Lagos State Government will next week boost the war against reckless driving,  by targeting all rickety vehicles, plying the State roads

The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Ekundayo Mobereola indicated this yesterday, expressing the State Government’s commitment to boost commuters safety, through  more effective monitoring of vehicles commuting on its roads.

Speaking in Alausa, while briefing newsmen at the flag off of the Vehicle Inspection Service bi-annual Safety Week, the Commissioner highlighted the theme for this year’s safety week as “Unroadworthy (Rickety) Vehicles: Threat to Lives on our roads.

The exercise is planned for between May 2ndto May 8th 2016.

He posited that the essence of the week is to generate awareness on the need to ensure that vehicles are maintained and are roadworthy before use, adding that safety is the essence of Government, and drawing attention to the need to remove all unroadworthy vehicles from the roads, especially because they create significant health challenges for citizens.

He stated that Government has improved the capacity of the Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS) to undertake its oversight function, through the creation of new zones, now 30, improve personnel and the computerization of Road Worthy Certificate.

Mobereola who was also of the view that the climate change effects were becoming more pronounced with demonstrated adverse consequence on the health of citizens,  he stressed the need to work towards reducing the contributions from rickety vehicles.

He described the exercise planned for the week as all encompassing, targeting both private and commercial vehicles,  adding that the involvement of other agencies of Government will significantly affect results.

“Government is determined to operate and regulate transportation to ensure safety” he said, explaining  that new initiatives have been promoted to ensure a public transportation system that will encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and use public transportation.

He urged Lagosians to embrace proper maintenance culture and ensure their vehicles are roadworthy, he explained that daily routine checks, fixing defects immediately, preventive maintenance as well as adequate monitoring will go a long way in improving safety.

In the meantime, more arrests are on the way in the probe of the huge cash some oil companies pumped into the failed bid to change the 2015 presidential election results. Some of the cash has been recovered.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested some bankers. It plans to haul in some oil barons who contributed $115m (N23, 299,705,000billion) to bribe some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials. The officials were to alter the results of the election in which President Muhammadu Buhari, the tehn candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) beat then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

The owner of an oil company, Leno Olaitan Adesanya, yesterday reported at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja for interrogation.

He was however asked to go to the commission’s office in Lagos for questioning.

Two others, who have been summoned by the EFCC, were said to have gone underground and incommunicado.

The EFCC has recovered N408.7million from some of the beneficiaries of the slush funds.

Fidelity Bank refunded N49.7million, its profit from the disbursement of the N23.29billion provided by former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Some former and serving INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun states refunded N359millon.

More officials of INEC were said to have rushed to the EFCC to refund the bribe given to them.

The EFCC team has intensified its investigation into the scandal.

It was learnt that besides INEC officials in the 36 states, the EFCC has invited the owners of the oil firms which contributed $88.35million of the $115million sent to Fidelity Bank by the ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources.

One of the four oil firms implicated in the bribery saga has been linked to former Governor of Delta State, who is serving a jail term in the United Kingdom, James Ibori.

It was gathered that the oil companies were mandated by Mrs Alison-Madueke to part with $88.35million as their contribution to Dr. Jonathan’s campaign.

Some of the oil chiefs were shocked by the findings of the EFCC that their donations were deployed in bribing INEC officials, The Nation learnt.

An EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said:”Our investigation into the N23.29billion bribe has reached a critical stage. Six teams are working round the clock in all the geopolitical zones.

“The top officials of Fidelity Bank in custody have made statements, including the list of all beneficiaries and bank details of payments made to them.

“We are likely to arrest more suspects, especially the oil chiefs who provided about $88.35million of the $115million lodged in Fidelity Bank for conversion to naira.

“One of the clues we are probing is the likelihood of these funds being laundered by the oil firms and their owners.

“If these clues are proven, they may eventually face trial for money laundering. We will surely interact with these oil magnates.

“Some oil companies are under surveillance for their covert operation in diverting taxes and revenue meant for the Federal Government to fund campaigns. You can now understand why some of them were given tax waivers.”

The source added: “One of the oil chiefs, Leno Olaitan Adesanya, reported at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja but he has been directed to go to the Lagos office.

“We are expecting him for grilling on Friday (today). We have invited other oil chiefs but two of them have gone underground. We will fish them out wherever they are.”

Fidelity Bank and some former and serving officials of INEC have refunded about N408.7million to the EFCC.

While the bank refunded N49.7million, some former and serving INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun states paid back  N359millon

A top EFCC source said: “While scrutinizing their records, we discovered that Fidelity Bank made a profit of N49.7million from the disbursement transactions made in all its branches nationwide. The management of the bank on Thursday refunded the profit while we are continuing investigation on other funds.

“Some former and serving INEC officials in Oyo and Ogun have paid back N359million to EFCC. What happened was that while N802m was voted for bribery of INEC officials and NGOs in Oyo State to change presidential poll results, about N629m was dished out in Ogun State,

“But some of these beneficiaries in Oyo and Ogun were suspicious of the sources of the funds. They cooperated and went to the designated Fidelity Bank branches and collected the cash. Instead of spending it, they sought the service of lawyers who advised them to open accounts to keep the cash in case there are issues in the future.

“When this matter came up, the lawyers assisted in locating the funds and the N359million was refunded.

“We are working on other beneficiaries to recover the slush funds.”

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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