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There is a strong indication that the Nigeria Customs Service has blacklisted the major rice importers, which allegedly owed the Federal Government about N20 billion, in unpaid Customs duty; a euphemism for their immediate delisting from companies competent to enjoy complete clearing services at the nation’s Customs ports and land borders.

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

The Service would also initiate criminal proceedings against them, for their unwillingness to offset the said amount, even after the expiration of two ultimatums, resulting in the advertised publications of their names in the Businessday and the Nation newspapers of 14th April, 2015.

Subsequently, the alleged debtor-companies in addition to facing criminal prosecution, may also no longer enjoy the Nigerian Customs Pre-Arrival Assessment Report computerized platform, while their goods currently in the port could be detained and warehoused; when any of them with cargo at the land border stations may not be allowed the approval to bring them in.

The NCS Image maker, Wale Adeniyi confirmed this to Maritime First correspondent in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, at the ongoing Public Relations Conference.

“It is true. Management has decided to enforce the Customs law. It is not about sanctions yet; it is just about asking then to pay what they owned the Federal Government”, he indicated.

“We recognize that it might take some time to file charges; and so to enable them get the full impact of the decision, we have also decided to block them on the PAAR platform.”

By taking them to court, according to Maritime First findings, the Customs has legitimately rail-roaded them into the legal cul-de-sac, where the Court may now take over the task of trying them for duty evasions and if found guilty, apportion appropriate sanctions.

He emphasized that the Service would adopt every legitimate measure to ensure that every kobo due the Federal Government was paid.

“We have the law that empowers us to prosecute any one or company that contravenes the Customs act. This is clearly an offence against the Custom law and that is why management is taking this decisive measures”, he explained further.

It was further learnt that while anyone who goes ahead to effect immediate payment could have all its former privileges restored, the blocked free passages would remain blocked until all monies owed is completely paid; as the Service may no longer be interested in providing new concessions, especially with the abuse of the present one.

He highlighted that the affected companies, as far as the Service was concerned, already secured themselves concessions to import; noting that the act of importing in excess of what the obtained approval for, was already an overstretch of the privileges; hence none of them should think of coming to request for another round of concessions again.

It would be recalled that the NCS had last Wednesday warned, that it would collect every kobo due the Federal Government, as Customs duty, from the rice excess imports.

The Service image-maker, Wale Adeniyi who gave the warning at the opening ceremony of the WCO Regional Conference in Abuja, stressed that the position of the Customs, in respect of duty collection had not changed, adding that failure to pay  the duty; would result in sanctioning the importers.

“We are committed to a total recovery of the duty payable on excess importation of rice. We have the Government backing on this. The President (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan) has given us the mandate to recover fully, the duty on excess importation on rice; and management has no reason whatsoever, to shirk its responsibility in this regard.

“It is revenue that is due, from any excess importation; and we have President Jonathan’s backing to make this recovery. So, despite their foot dragging, they cannot escape paying it”, Wale Adeniyi emphasized.

“Some of these importers still import. They are corporate bodies. So they have indemnities which we can tap into. We have our cards; and we can very much play it effectively.

“Some of them still have high volumes of imports which they have not started discharging. We may not allow them to discharge. And even the ones that have discharged; we may not allow them to leave the port, until they meet their obligations”, the image maker had indicated further.

Meanwhile, a reporter of the Maritime First at the on going public hearing of the House noted Olam farm’s declaration, that because the farm had invested so much, it would not hesitate to pay the duty against its name, without further delay, should the need arise.

Olam alone is expected to pay about N3.5bn.

In the mean time, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it trained over 4,454 personnel on capacity building in 2014 to enhance service delivery.

The Comptroller General Customs, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi stated this in Uyo on Monday during the opening ceremony of a three-day training workshop for officers and men of the NCS, organised by the Service, in collaboration with the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).

Represented by Deputy Comptroller, Wale Adeniyi, the CGC said he was focusing on training and retraining of officers, stressing that officers would no doubt, “deliver if they have good training; as well as work in good environment”.

The conference with the theme “Strategic Communication for Effective Reputation and Change Management” was targeted  towards educating the younger generation of officers to deliver effectively; and for which reason, the exercise is expected not only to run on annual basis, but also accommodate stakeholders, academia, the media and everyone relevant to the Service developmental chain, in a desire to give partnership a new meaning.

“In capacity building, a total of 4,140 officers were trained in different aspects of customs operations in Nigeria and a total of 314 officers were trained outside the country.

“The service has put in immense investment in capacity building in the last five years.

“This workshop records over 70 per cent participants of customs public relations officers with the rank of one and two star officers.
“This means that the service is building for the future and is also trying to build sustainability in the operations of customs public relations and image management”, Abdullahi said.


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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