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N. Korea vows to end diplomat communication channel with US

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  • 11 dead as herdsmen go on rampage in Niger

North Korea said Monday it will end a diplomatic communication channel with the United States and hinted at harsher punishment for Americans detained in the country in retaliation for U.S. sanctions that target leader Kim Jong Un.

The U.S. government last week imposed penalties on Kim and 10 other top officials for alleged human rights abuses. North Korea is already sanctioned because of its nuclear weapons program, but it was the first time that Kim has been personally sanctioned. The North called the sanctions tantamount to a war declaration.

On Monday, the North’s state media said it told the United States it will terminate contact through a U.N. channel in New York that allowed diplomats to communicate.

The New York channel refers to a method for North Korea’s U.N. diplomats to communicate with U.S. diplomats in New York. This is needed because the countries don’t have diplomatic ties and their animosities have deepened because of the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The North also said it informed Washington that it will handle all issues between the two countries according to an unspecified wartime law, including Americans detained in North Korea, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

South Korean media have suggested that North Korea might use the wartime law to hand out harsher punishments on Americans detained in the North.

The North’s actions could complicate U.S. efforts to secure the release of at least two American citizens being held for alleged espionage, subversion and other anti-state activities. One is serving a 10-year prison term with hard labor while the other received 15 years.

North Korea in the past released or deported American detainees only after high-profile Americans visited the country on their behalf. Outside analysts say Pyongyang often attempts to use foreign detainees to wrest concessions from other countries.

The North’s announcement came hours after it made more threats, this time over a U.S. plan to deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.

The North’s threat, carried in state media, was typical of past bluster. It came three days after Seoul and Washington said they were close to determining a location in South Korea for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system to better deal with North Korean threats.

The North said it will take an unspecified “physical counter-action” as soon as the THAAD location is announced. The statement also carried one of the North’s favorite, oft-repeated threats: To turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.” It has regularly warned it would do that since 1994. U.S. and South Korean officials say THAAD only targets North Korea, but China and Russia suspect it could also help U.S. radars detect their own missiles.

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said Monday she agreed on the U.S. missile deployment because North Korea has openly threatened to launch nuclear and missile attacks on South Korea.

The two Koreas are divided along the world’s most heavily fortified border. The United States stations about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea.

In the meantime, no fewer than 11 persons have been confirmed death following a violent clash between suspected Fulani Herdsmen and Gbagyi communities in Niger State.  The incident it was gathered happened during the Eid-El- Fitri celebration.

It was gathered four persons were killed in Lamba, Paikoro local government, while another seven were hacked down during another fiasco between the same ethnic people in Barakuta in Boss local government area of the state. In Barakuta, besides the loss of lives, while several persons were injured, property worth millions of Naira including houses, vehicles and motorcycles were razed and many others injured. The immediate causes of the fracas in the two communities were not yet ascertained as at going to press.

However, governor Abubakar Sani Bello has vowed to bring mastermind and accomplices of the two clashes to book. He spoke when he visited the Bosso Primary School, Bosso where the displaced women and children from Bara-Kuta were being temporarily sheltered.

Shocked by the wanton destruction of lives and properties including farm lands, the governor said: “Nobody has the power or right to take the life of others. These senseless and unwarranted killings cannot and will not be condoned. You cannot just take machete and kill somebody because of disagreement. There are laws and nobody can claim to be above the law. Whatever maybe the grievances, people cannot take laws into their hands.  I have instructed the chairmen of the affected councils, Commissioner of Police and my Special Adviser, Security to fish out the masterminds of the two clashes as well as their accomplices. I have also directed for comprehensive investigations into the incidences with a view to prosecuting and bringing to book the culprits.  We are determined to bring an end to this barbaric act. The Police and other security agencies should ensure that we get to the root of these sad events, prosecute and punish those found culpable”.

The governor directed that while State Emergency Management Agency to ensure the comfort of the displaced persons, the police should provide adequate protection for the displaced persons at the camp.

“I sympathise with you people over the unfortunate incident here at Lamba, now that peace as returned, I implore you all to go after your duties and business without fear. Government is on top of the situation and we shall ensure the security of our people and their properties, including their farms and animals,” the governor assured the people of Lamba.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Paikoro Local Government, Mr. John Maikarfi told the governor that he had set up a 9-man committee to investigate the cause of the fracas at Lamba village. The state police Command spokesman, DSP Bala Elkana also told journalists that police and military had been drafted to the communities for joint patrol, adding that those arrested were being investigated.

MSN 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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