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NJC bars Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia from elevation

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  • As National Assembly plans to pass 2016 budget by March 17

National Judicial Council, NJC, has placed Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court in Lagos on watch-list for the next four years with a warning over misconduct.

A statement issued by NJC and signed by Acting Deputy Director, Information, stated that the Council took the decision at its meeting on February 24 and 25, 2016, under the chairmanship of Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Chief Justice of Nigeria.

As part of her punishment for misconduct, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia will also not be considered for any elevation to the Court of Appeal or any Ad-hoc judicial appointment until her retirement from the Bench.

The statement also revealed that the decision was sequel to a petition written by one Victoria Ayeni, alleging misconduct and injustice on the part of the judge. She was accused of failing to deliver judgment in Suit No. FHC/ AB/CS/31/2011, a preelection matter between Victoria A. A. Ayeni and Olusola Sonuga and 2 Ors.

She was alleged to have adjourned the preelection matter severally until the termination of the lifespan of the Ogun State House of Assembly. The decision of the Council on Justice Ofili- Ajumogobia is with immediate effect.

In the meantime, the Joint Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Appropriations on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the N6.08tn budget for fiscal 2016 would be passed on March 17.

The committees stated that the final report on the appropriation bill would be laid on the floor of both chambers of the National Assembly on March 16 for consideration and subsequent passage the following day. Both panels had earlier said that the February 25 date for the passage of the budget was no longer realistic due to errors and padding.

However, at a joint press conference in Abuja Wednesday, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, gave an assurance that this year’s budget would be passed on March 17.

Specifically, Goje said that both committees would meet critical stakeholders, including the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Accountant-General of the Federation; and Director, Budget Office of the Federation on Thursday. He said the committees and the invited officials would seize the opportunity of the meeting to address grey areas observed in the budget.

Goje said, “Tomorrow (Thursday), we are going to have a discussion with the Minister of Budget and Planning, Minister of Finance, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“The same thing with the Senate; we are also going to engage these people. We are going to engage other ministers to ensure that as much as possible, we align this budget to satisfy the needs of Nigerians. “We may not be 100 per cent right, but we will try to get it right because the basic thing is to ensure that we produce a budget that will translate into the betterment of the lives of Nigerians.”

When asked if both legislative chambers would conclude the consideration of the bulky submissions of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government within the four hours of sitting as promised, Jibrin explained that the lawmakers were already familiar with the details of the budget.

He explained that the budgets of all the MDAs had been submitted. Jibrin added that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, who earlier failed to present his ministry’s budget due to official engagements, did so on Tuesday behind closed doors.

On the non-appearance of Kachikwu, Jibrin reversed the committee’s threat to take over the budget of the ministry and other standing committees, which failed to meet the deadline for the submission of the budgets of the various MDAs.

National Mirror with additional report from Punch

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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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