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BBOG: Rescue our girls or resign – Chibok parents tell Buhari

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Parents protesting the failure of the Federal Government to rescue over 200 schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram sect in Chibok in 2014 have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescue  the girls from captivity or resign.

The parents, who joined the #BringBackOurGirls coalition on Thursday for another protest march to the Presidential Villa, were again stopped by armed policemen.

A representative of the parents, Rev. Enoch Mark, accused the Federal Government of not doing enough to rescue the girls, saying the government should negotiate for their release. Mark, whose two daughters were among the 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, said he suffered a stroke while worrying about his daughters. He insisted that Buhari must negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of the schoolgirls.

He said, “We cast our votes for Buhari because he promised to rescue our girls. Now, the parents are asking you, Mr. President, to meet the insurgents and make a decision.

“Either use the military force or go for negotiation; some countries are ready to give you a helping hand. What are you waiting for? Are you not interested in bringing back our girls? “We have intelligence agencies in Nigeria; there is nothing in this country that they don’t know. Why didn’t you give them orders to bring back our girls? “Are you not a General? You know what is happening and you know where our daughters are. Buhari, if you feel that you are incapable of rescuing the girls, step down now and give it (power) to someone else. We have many intelligent persons in the country who can handle this situation. You cannot tell us that you don’t know where the girls are.”

Mark, who uses a walking stick, accused the Federal Government of not communicating with the parents of the abducted girls. He cited the Malaysian government’s handling of the Malaysian MH370 air crash, noting that the government regularly communicated with the families of the crash victims during the incident.

“For two months now, I have not been able to sleep; I had stroke while thinking of my two daughters. General Buhari, had your daughters been among these girls, how will you feel? How will you feel with your daughter in enemies’ hands? You are responsible for the rescue of these girls. You are responsible for my daughters’ safety. “When the Malaysian plane crashed, the Malaysian government was in touch with the families of the victims, but you are not talking to Chibok girls’ parents,” he added. The aggrieved father said Buhari did not empathise with the Chibok parents when they visited him at the Presidential Villa in January.

“You intimidated us; you said you were frustrated, you were not happy with us. Are we not Nigerians? If Buhari feels he does not know (the girls’ location), let him step down and hand over to someone else,” Mark added. The Co-convener, BBOG,  Oby Ezekwesili, who read a statement on behalf of the group, said the members would march to the Presidential Villa again in 72 hours if there was no positive response from the Federal Government. The group noted the attack on Shawa Village in the Askira Uba Local Government Area of Borno State and acknowledged the courage and gallantry of the soldiers in the frontlines, including  the Multinational Joint Task Force and the Civilian JTF, and urged them to remain resilient in the face of attacks.

The BBOG called for an investigation into the handling of salaries and emoluments of troops, saying complaints about their poor feeding and allowances were unacceptable. It challenged the government to demonstrate the political will to rescue the girls by taking a definite action on the issue.

It said, “Reports from a former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, after a meeting with Mr. President suggest that the Federal Government’s position remains a lack of credible intelligence. “Coming over seven months since our engagement with Mr. President on January 14, and considering the lack of feedback on rescue efforts, this strengthens the position that there has been no focused, coherent and consistent operation to rescue our girls. “Having submitted four cogent reasons why it could not be said that there is a lack of credible intelligence during our meeting in January, and three further reasons just three days ago, the discussion must shift from credible intelligence to political will to decide on a line of action.”

The BBOG said the claim by the military that it had fatally injured Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, made it the fourth time that the security forces had announced that they had killed the terrorist. Also, the Chibok community, in a statement by its spokesman, Dr Manasseh Allen, reiterated its calls for negotiation with Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

It said the escape of one of the girls, Amina Ali, in May 2016 had bridged the gap of absence of intelligence and called on the government and its agencies to live up to their duties. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom pledged to do whatever it could to assist in finding the girls. The UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, said this when the BBOG members met with him in Abuja.

He said, “UK stands in solidarity with the Chibok people; the girls are global citizens; so, we will do whatever we can to partner the Nigerian government to help find the girls.” Attempts to speak with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, proved abortive as his phone rang out. He had yet to reply to a text message sent to his mobile phone as of press time.

The Presidency on Thursday said the Federal Government has not given up on the Chibok girls. It said Buhari’s heart was with the girls and their parents. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents. He said efforts to find the abducted girls would continue. The presidential spokesman said, “The President’s heart is with the Chibok girls and their parents. He understands their feelings. “The government has not given up on the missing girls. Efforts to find them will continue.

“So far, the country’s gallant and re-energised military has taken back more than 20,000 citizens held hostage by the terrorists. “In the last couple of days, the Nigerian Air Force carried out a successful raid in which 300 terrorists were killed. The leader of the terrorists, Shekau, was injured. “Boko Haram, which killed above 20,000 citizens is on the retreat. Government’s efforts to end terrorism and brigandage all over the country will continue.”

The Citizen

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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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