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Nigerian Army afraid to take over recaptured towns – Chad

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•It’s not true –DHQ

The Chadian military has expressed frustration at the reluctance of the Nigerian Army to take over territories that members of the Multinational Joint Task Force recaptured from Boko Haram terrorists.

Chad’s military spokesman, Colonel Azem Bermandoa, said the Chadians had requested the Nigerian military to come and occupy Damasak town among others, but regretted that no response has been made to the request.

Defence Headquarters has said nothing so far about the Chadian request, but Colonel Azem Bermandoa promised that the Chadians will remain in their positions and protect the recaptured towns until Nigerian troops arrive.

However, the most biting criticism of the reluctance of Nigerian soldiers to take over the liberated towns in the North-East came from Chadian Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

He was alleged to have said that, “The Nigerian Army has not succeeded in facing Boko Haram or stopping the occupation of these towns. This is up to Nigeria.

“My fondest wish is that they assume their responsibilities by reoccupying the captured areas”, he said and expressed disgust about the near-total absence of cooperation from Nigerian military in a crucial regional battle.

It was gathered that Chadian soldiers were wondering why only the Multinational Joint Task Force members from other countries and not Nigerians, were left in towns like Damasak, several days after the last Boko Haram fighters were routed from the areas.

The Chadian Foreign Minister said: “Our biggest wish is that the Nigerian Army pulls itself together, that it takes responsibility on the towns. We are ready to disengage, right away.”

Also, Second Lieutenant Hassan of the Chadian Army was quoted as berating the Nigerian troops for failing in their responsibilities.

He said, “We asked the Nigerian Army to come and receive this town from us, but they have not come. I think it is because they are afraid.

“We fought Boko Haram on the night of the 14th March, and the last attack was on the 15th. We called on them on the 16th and told them to come; they didn’t believe we were here yet. It is up to Nigeria to hold the town, not us. Our role is offensive. Our mission is to chase the terrorists.”

Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, has,   however, denied that Nigerian troops were unwilling to take over the recaptured territories from their allies.

Olukolade said, “It is not true that our soldiers are not willing to take over liberated communities. There is no town that our soldiers have liberated that is not being well secured and well patrolled at the moment.

“We have always warned against irresponsible comments in this collaboration and we are not ready to join issues with anybody. We will do everything to sustain this collaboration.”

He also disclosed that a combined air and ground operation was used to repel an attack on Bama town by Boko Haram terrorists Saturday afternoon.

Major General Olukolade said more than a score of the terrorists died in the attack while others fled with several types of wounds.

“A Hilux vehicle as well as other equipment and some weapons were captured from the attackers. One soldier died while seven others were wounded while repelling the attack. They have been evacuated from the combat area by air and are already receiving medical attention,” he said.

Nigerian troops regained control of northeast Bama town in Borno State last week, after clearing the terrorists from the town.

He said many more of the insurgents died from Air Force patrol planes which went after the fleeing terrorists, adding that pursuit was ongoing while calm had been restored in Bama town.

In the past few weeks, Boko Haram camps in the northern parts of the states close to the borders with neighbouring countries have been under intense pressure from Nigerian troops in collaboration with troops from the Multinational Joint Task Force.

However, soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated Damasak from Boko Haram have reported discovering the bodies of about 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge in the town.

In what appeared to be an execution site for the terrorist group, the bodies were strewn beneath the concrete bridge on one of the main roads leading out of the town. At least one was said to have been decapitated.

The bodies were partially mummified by the dry desert air, while grass has began to grow around the bodies, suggesting that the killings had taken place some time ago.

Damasak was seized by the terrorist group in November but recaptured by troops from Niger and Chad on Saturday during a multinational effort to wipe out the militants.

Chadian soldiers, who said the bodies were discovered on Thursday, spoke of at least 100 corpses in the area around the dry river bed. Witnesses were, however, able to count at least 70.

A strong smell of decomposition in many parts of the town suggested there could be more bodies concealed in other areas.

A trail of blackened blood was visible along the side of the bridge facing the bodies, suggesting they had been thrown off the side after being killed. Among the dead was the Imam of the town.

The entire population of the town fled by the time Damasak was recaptured. Those who remained were mostly too old or those who are too sick to leave.

“People were in town when they (Boko Haram) attacked, they fired at us, we ran away to the bushes but they continued to fire and chased some people to kill them,” said a Damasak resident, Mbodou Moussa.

On Thursday, two security sources told reporters that Boko Haram killed at least 10 people in Gamburu, on the border with Cameroon to probably demonstrate that it can still attack civilians despite being forced into retreat.

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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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