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Pres. Buhari mandates EFCC to probe ministers, others

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  • Nigerians seek Amaechi’s removal over bribery scandal

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu revealed, in Kaduna, yesterday, that they have the mandate to investigate every government official, including ministers, irrespective of political party affiliations.

Magu, who said the mandate was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s measures towards winning the war against corruption, disclosed that, “every  government official is under investigation without them knowing it.”

He said this during a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the National Union of Textiles and Garment Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), in Kaduna. However, Magu dispelled insinuations in some quarters that EFCC operations was one-sided in the fight against corruption.

“We have course to investigate; in fact, we are investigating those in government without them knowing. Not only that, the president has given me the mandate to investigate every corrupt Nigerian leader irrespective of his political affiliation. I don’t think we have the monopoly of knowledge to tackle corruption. But, more than that, the fight against corruption is designed and structured to boost confidence in the economy as well as to attract investors both within and outside the country,” Magu added.

The EFCC boss also described corruption as a crime against humanity. He said, before now, there was no hope for Nigeria, but President  Buhari had shown “demonstrable political” will to deal with corruption.

“Corruption affects everybody, that is why everyone is a major stakeholder in the fight. That is why I have the passion, zeal and courage to lead the fight against corruption,” Magu said. In his remarks, NUTGTWN General Secretary, Issa Aremu said the EFCC should be empowered to invite those living above means to explain their sources of wealth. Aremu said if investigating agencies were not satisfied with explanations by suspects about their sources of wealth, such persons should be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has revealed why it arrested former presidential spokesperson, Dr. Reuben Abati on Monday. The commission said, in a post on its official Facebook page, it invited Abati to its Abuja Headquarters to explain his role in an alleged mismanagement of the nation’s funds during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. An EFCC operative told Daily Sun the specific reason Abati was invited  “has to do with the ONSA money.”

EFCC also arrested and detained former minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed over alleged N1.2 trillion fraud. Last week, former minister of state for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro was detained on allegations of money laundering. Meanwhile, legal luminaries has called for the resignation of he Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi  following allegations that he tried to influence the outcome of some election petition cases.

Two justices of the Supreme Court, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta had accused the minister of offering them bribe to help influence the apex court’s decisions in some election cases. In separate letters to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, the two accused Amaechi of instigating their ordeal because they refused to deliver judgement in his favour.

The two justices were among the seven judges arrested recently by operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS. Speaking on whether the minister should relinquish his post pending investigation of the bribery allegations made against, a former President, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN said that although the bribery allegation has not been proved, international best practice demands that he should step down pending investigation of the matter.

According to Agbakoba the way the matter is handled will depend on how the President wants people to perceive his fight against corruption. He said: “International best practice suggest that whenever such allegations are made and you occupy a very serious position, then it is in your interest to take a leave of absence.

“It happened when the minister for defence in Canada was accused of giving a contract to his friend, he stepped aside pending when the matter was investigated.” Agbakoba wondered why three weeks after the DSS operatives raided the homes of the judges; the Federal Government was yet to file charges against them.

Also speaking on the issue, human rights lawyer, Fred Agbaje said Amaechi should be suspended from office pending when the allegation is resolved. He said: “It is a mere allegation until proven against him. He will still have to remain in office. But what government can do for now is that he can be suspended from work until the allegations levelled against him are proven.”

 The Sun with additional report from The Mirror.

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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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