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Osinbajo, Fani-Kayode Head to Courts Seeking Damages for Defamatory Statements

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The face-off between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Director of Media and Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, took a new dimension yesterday with threats and counter-threats by parties to go to court.

While the APC vice-presidential candidate of the APC, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to Femi Fani-Kayode, to apologise over his “defamatory statements” against him, Fani-Kayode has demanded a retraction from the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for what he described as a libelous statement that was published against him.

Osinbajo, in a letter dated February 28 addressed to  Fani-Kayode and obtained by an online news medium, Premium Times, demanded N2 billion as damages.

He also demanded an immediate retraction of the “offensive and derogatory” publication and an apology on four television channels and national newspapers.
“Be advised that if we do not receive your formal retraction and apology and damages as demanded within seven days of receipt hereof, we shall proceed with our client’s instructions to seek appropriate legal remedies for your publication and dissemination of defamatory statements,” Osinbajo wrote, through his lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN).

Last Friday, Fani-Kayode, a lawyer, had convened a press conference in Abuja where he alleged that the APC’s vice presidential candidate had sworn an oath to vacate his seat should the party win the forthcoming election.

According to Mr. Fani-Kayode, Bola Tinubu, the APC’s National Leader, had nominated Osinbajo as part of “plans to come to power through the back door”.

“Tinubu, according to our information, has compelled Osinbajo to swear to an oath that after six months in office, he would resign as the vice-president, in the unlikely event that their party wins,”  Fani-Kayode said in his press statement titled ‘APC is Selling a Dummy to the Whole World; Tinubu is the Real Candidate.’
“The wicked plot, as laid out by them, is to force Osinbajo to resign for Tinubu to be nominated by Buhari as his replacement.”

Falana said that the statement, wherein he labelled Osinbajo as  Tinubu’s ‘stooge,’ hurt the vice presidential candidate having been disseminated to millions of television viewers, including print and online media.

“As it were, the statement has now been published and circulated to an undetermined number of people in Nigeria, and internationally,” Falana said.

“The direct meaning, imputation, purport and/or innuendo or insinuation of the false, misleading and defamatory statements is that: ‘Osinbajo is deceitful. Essentially, you alleged that his motivation and pledge to serve as Vice-President of Nigeria is inconsistent with his avowed desire to serve this nation with Buhari, and work assiduously to deliver the benefits of his commitment, party and personal promises to the people.’

“Your characterisation of Osinbajo as a ‘stooge’ in context suggests that he is complicit in a fraud against the Nigerian people.”

Falana further said that Fani-Kayode’s statements imply that his client lacks integrity and had engaged in a conduct incompatible with his faith and ethics as a pastor and respected lawyer.

“It is clear that the entire publication was a vicious, wicked and reckless ploy to impugn the reputation of our client and lower him in the estimation of right thinking members of the public,” Falana added.

On the other hand, Fani-Kayode is  demanding from Mohammed, the sum of N5 billion and a retraction of the defamatory publication.

Fani-Kayode, while denying the content of the report, titled: ‘We’re concerned about Fani-Kayode’s mental status’ and the innuendoes contained in it, published on March 3, on page 6 of The Nation Newspaper, said every allegation  against him in the said publication was false and defamatory of his person and character.

According to the  three-page letter by his lawyers, Ahmed Raji and Company, dated March 3, Fani-Kayode is demanding, in addition to retraction of the said statement, an apology to him within seven days of the receipt of his letter by Mohammed.

According to the letter signed by Mr. Whyteman Prekunomaa, “You (Lai Mohammed) are also to enter into negotiation for damages as we have firm instructions to claim five billion naira damages against you.”

“Take notice, therefore, that it will amount to a specious gamble on your part, if you treat this letter with levity,” Fani-Kayode’s lawyers advised Lai Mohammed.

Oil Hedge Helps Oando Prepay Debt after ConocoPhillips Deal Oando Plc has prepaid $238 million out of the $753 million it borrowed to part FINANCE the acquisition of ConocoPhillips’ Nigerian oil and gas business, the company said yesterday according to Reuters.

Oando bought ConocoPhillips’s upstream oil and gas business in Nigeria last July for $1.5 billion, helping it transition from a marketer of refined petroleum products into one of the top players in the West African country’s oil industry.

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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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