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Obasanjo corrupted N’Assembly members — Melaye

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  • As EFCC: Tompolo backtracks; and now plans to appear in court

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Dino Melaye, on Thursday alleged that it was former President Olusegun Obasanjo that exposed the federal lawmakers to corruption during his tenure.

Melaye, in a statement issued in Abuja as a response to Obasanjo’s latest letter to the federal parliamentarians, also accused the retired General of misplacing his anger on the current members of the National Assembly.

Melaye said he had expected Obasanjo to have forgiven members of the Fourth National Assembly, who allegedly refused to impeach Speaker Umar Ghali Na’Abba, despite an alleged huge financial inducement.

The statement partly read, “I have tremendous respect for President Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo, elder statesman, respected pan-Africanist and committed patriot.

“I went through the letter written to all senators and members of the House of Representatives.

“The letter, as I can see it, is a misplacement of anger. Our leader has mistaken the 8th National Assembly as the same National Assembly that defrauded him in 2007; that is those who collected his money and refused to implement the third term agenda.

“I appeal to Baba that we are not the ones please. After nine years of that bribery saga, the first of its kind, I expect forgiveness to have taken place.

“There was the case of bribery introduced by the Obasanjo regime in the desperate attempt to remove Speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba from office then.

“In fact, there was an open display of that bribery money on the floor of the House.

“That (Obasanjo’s) government exposed the National Assembly to corruption and easy money.

“ I hope this is not in an attempt to cover up and distract attention from the Halliburton and Siemens corruption allegations? While I am against corruption anywhere in Nigeria, I will not support accusations based on anger and vindictiveness.

“The 8th Senate should also look inward and purge itself of all the deliberate misgivings of the past.

“Nigeria must work and we must support the anti-corruption stand of the Buhari Administration. God bless Nigeria.”

In the meantime, former General Officer Commanding  (GOC), Movement for the Emanicipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Government Ekpumupolo, alias Tompolo, yesterday, said he will appear before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, which issued a bench warrant for his arrest, January 14, but “at the appropriate time.”

The bench warrant followed a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which had filed different charges against Tompolo, over allegation of diverting N34 billion belonging to the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to personal use and laundering of N22.6 billion.

Tompolo, who spoke through his Media Adviser and Consultant, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo, also said he will never commence war against the Federal Government having accepted amnesty in 2009, reiterating that he was not party to the recent three-day bombing of crude oil and gas pipelines in Delta State.

He said: “Tompolo has no reason to bomb pipelines because of the EFCC case. He knows he is innocent. As he has stated on several occasions, he will appear in court at the appropriate time as his lawyers are working towards that.

“The truth of the matter is that Tompolo does not know anything about the N34 billion EFCC is talking about. First, it was N13 billion,  now it is N34 billion. He is not a signatory to any of the companies mentioned in the said N34 billion case. So he does not know where this one is coming from.”

On allegation by another ex-militant leader, Africanus Ukparasia, alias “General” Africa that he bombed pipelines, Tompolo said he alerted the public that some aggrieved All Progressives Congress, APC, members in Bayesla and Delta States wanted to destroy national assets in the Niger Delta and finger him because of the outcome of the Bayelsa State governorship election.

“True to his fears, these APC chieftains that joined the party immediately after the presidential election of 2015 were the first people to accuse him of bombing the pipelines to divert public attention from themselves.

“These new APC members, who the former chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, described as parasites, also threatened to cause problem in the Niger Delta region if the pipeline surveillance contract in Delta State already awarded to Messrs Ocean Marine Solution was not re-awarded to them.

“This is a clear testimony of their involvement in the bombing of the pipelines. Since then, we all have seen their role in misleading the military and the general public,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Crisis Communication, CCC, has urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and other stakeholders to urgently invest in, and deploy digital system of surveillance, including drones, which has the capacity to detect and report anywhere pipelines are tampered with.

In a statement by its Executive Secretary, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (retd), the Centre also called for consultations and negotiations among stakeholders in the region especially the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Traditional rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities, TROMCON, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Joint Task Force, JTF and youth leaders in the region with a view to identifying the real cause of the recent monumental economic sabotage and to proffer solutions.

Meanwhile, following renewed attacks on oil platforms and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy, yesterday, commenced modalities to train its officers and ratings in the use of un-manned maritime vessels, UMVs, as well as un-manned aerial vessels, UAVs, to be incorporated soon into its operations.

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas, who made the disclosure  at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, between the Nigerian Navy and the Indian Navy, noted that Navy personnel for the un-manned vessels would be trained in India with a view to enhancing surveillance capability.

Punch 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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