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N1trn scam: Court stops Senate, IGP from arresting Larmode

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  • As Dasukigate declares: I’m not coming to court

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has stopped the Senate from going ahead with the probe of the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, over an alleged N1 trillion scam.

The Senate summoned the former EFCC boss to account for the fund seized from some alleged corrupt public servants, but rather than honour the invitation of the lawmakers, the former EFCC boss rushed to the court to stop his probe.

In a motion ex parte dated March 7, Lamorde, through his counsel, Festus Ukpue, asked the court to stop the Senate from issuing a warrant of arrest on his client pending the hearing and determination of the suit before the court.

Justice Kolawole, after listening to the ex parte motion ordered “that a limited order of injunction is, hereby, granted to restrain the defendants pending when they are heard on the reply to the plaintiff’s motion on notice.

“That the plaintiff’s counsel is, hereby, directed to obtain a certified true copy of the order in this ruling and shall cause same to be served on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), who shall on the authority of this court’s order, refrain to give any effect to any such warrant, which the defendants may have issued against the plaintiff on the simple judicial principle of lis pendens.”

The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions had, on the strength of a petition forwarded to it against Lamorde by one Mr George Uboh, over an alleged N1trillion scam in the agency, summoned both the petitioner and Lamorde to appear before it through separate letters.

The fraud allegedly perpetrated by Larmode was said to have dated back to his days as the Director of Operations of the EFCC between 2003 and 2007, as well as an acting chairman of the commission between June 2007 and May 2008, when the then chairman of the anti-graft agency, Nuhu Ribadu, was away for a course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), in Kuru, Jos.

Uboh, Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, a security firm, in his petition dated July 31, 2015, accused Lamorde of some specific instances of under-remittance and non-disclosure of proceeds of corruption recovered from criminal suspects, including Balogun and Alamieyeseigha.

He assured the Senate that he would produce “overwhelming evidence” to back his claims against Lamorde.

The petitioner also alleged that the EFCC had not accounted for “offshore recoveries” and that “over half of the assets seized from suspects are not reflected in EFCC exhibit records.”

In the meantime, former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki yesterday refused to appear in court for his trial.

His absence stalled his trial at a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja.

Dasuki, Shuaibu Salisu, a former NSA Director of Finance, and Aminu Baba-Kusa, a former Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Executive Director, have been arraigned for alleged diversion of N13.6 billion meant for purchase of arms.

The other defendants are Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.

At yesterday’s hearing, prosecuting counsel Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said  Dauski refused to come to the court because his lead counsel would be absent.

Jacobs said he persuaded him to come but he said “unless you abduct me, I am not coming’’.

Citing Sections 267(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, he said it was a deliberate effort made by the first defendant and his counsel not to appear in court.

However, Mr Wale Balogun, holding brief for Mr Joseph Dauda (SAN), told the court that it was the duty of the prosecution to produce the first defendant in court.

He said the prosecuting counsel did not produce affidavit evidence before the court as for why he could not produce the first defendant.

Olakayode Dada, Mr Solomon Umoh (SAN), Dr Abiodun Layoun (SAN) and Mr Olajide Ayodele, counsel for second to fifth defendants, aligned themselves with Balogun’s submission.

Justice Husseni Baba-Yusuf adjourned till April 6 for continuation.

Tribune with 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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