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Rivers: Gunmen kill five policemen, kidnap naval officer, rating

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  • Osinbajo, military chiefs go into crucial meeting   • Also Bayelsa gov, oil companies’ chiefs in Aso Villa

Five policemen, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr. Nasiru Halidu, were on Monday killed by unknown gunmen in Okobe, Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The policemen, who were heading to 30 PMF (Police Mobile Force) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, at the end of their special mission in Yobe State were ambushed by the hoodlums at about 3am.

It was gathered that the hoodlums took the policemen unawares and opened fire, killing all the five cops, who were occupants of a police van.

The hoodlums, it was gathered, thereafter made away with the guns of the deceased policemen.

The hoodlums were said to have left the scene immediately after their operation that ostensibly did not last up to 10 minutes.

A stray bullet was said to have hit a conductor attached to a tanker driver. Tanker drivers usually sleep over in Okobe before continuing their journey to their destinations.

“One of my coursemates, a DSP; his name is Nasiru Halidu, was among those ambushed and killed by the hoodlums. He was among the police officers and men, who went on a special duty in Yobe State.

“They were going back to Yenagoa after ending their special assignment. It was at Okobe in Ahoada West, along the East-West Road, that the incident happened,” a police source lamented.

The incident was said to have caused pandemonium in the community as some indigenes of the area had begun to leave to avoid being arrested.

Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Muhammad, said the hoodlums laid ambush for the policemen that were travelling back to Yenagoa.

He dismissed claims in some quarters that the policemen were involved in a shoot-out with some members of a cult group, insisting that the policemen were not attached to the Rivers State Police Command.

Muhammad, who was almost in tears, explained that the attack occurred in the wee hours of Monday, adding that all the policemen, who were occupants of a vehicle, died.

“It is not through that they (policemen) were involved in a shoot-out with cult members. The truth is that they were coming from Yobe State after their special assignment and they were ambushed in Okobe, Ahoada West LGA.

“They (policemen) were from 30 PMF and were going back to their base in Yenagoa when the incident happened. It has nothing to do with the any shoot-out.

“We are deeply pained by the senseless and barbaric killing of our colleagues attached to 30 PMF, Yenagoa, who were ambushed in the early hours of today (Monday) at Okobe enroute Yenagoa.

“Today’s tragedy again demonstrated the enormous calamities we face and witness in the course of our job. We put our lives on the line every day to confront crime and violence in our communities.

“We will stop at nothing to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act to justice,” Muhammad added.

Meanwhile, a  naval officer and a rating have been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Rumuji axis of Emohua Local Government Area of the state.

The officer and the rating, whose name could not be ascertained immediately, were said to be on their way to Sapele in Delta State before they were waylaid and taken away by the unknown gunmen.

The incident, according to a source, occurred at about 4pm on Monday.

A navy source, who confirmed the abduction of the officer and the rating, told The PUNCH that the duo’s whereabouts had not been ascertained.

The source explained that a call had since been put across to the naval base of the victims while the search for them had started.

“I received a call today (on Monday) and was told that a naval officer and a rating were kidnapped. The officer and the rating were on their way to Sapele when they were abducted in Emohua.

“Their (officer and rating) command is not in Rivers State. It is in Delta State and I have put a call across to tell them about the development, but no response yet,” the navy source added.

In the meantime, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday evening, met with some critical stakeholders over the renewed attack on oil and gas installations by militants in the Niger Delta.

He started his meetings at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at about 7.00 p.m. with some security chiefs, including those from Navy and Army and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, alongside other government officials.

He also met separately with Bayelsa State governor, Mr Henry Dickson and the Amayanabo of Toun Brass, Bayelsa State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, before meeting with representatives of some oil companies in company with Dickson and Diete-Spiff.

Among the oil companies represented at the meeting were Shell, Total, AGIP, NLNG and Chevron.

Dickson, speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, said it was at the instance of the vice-president, saying that it centred mainly on taxation disagreement between the government and the oil firms.

But he said the meeting also deliberated on the need to secure oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta and prevent disruption of production.

“First, we are here because the Vice-President took time to invite the state government and the representatives of oil companies operating in Bayelsa State because of issues the government has with them in respect of taxation principally.

“But we have also used this opportunity to talk about the need for a secured environment for the oil companies to continue with their operations.

“This is a time that we cannot afford to have any disruption, not to talk of vandalism of critical national assets. This is a time that all hands should be on the deck.

“All of us as stakeholders are concerned and we have agreed to work together to ensure that production is not disrupted and that all partners should be responsible and do what we need to do.

“I want to use this opportunity to say that yesterday (Sunday), at the meeting of the South-South governors in Asaba, this issue was discussed; the need for all of us to work together in the Niger Delta, compare notes and collaborate with the Federal Government was discussed.

“We agreed to have a meeting with the President. We have conveyed that message and we are looking forward to a date that will be convenient for the President.

“The meeting will be on how we can jointly protect strategic national assets, discuss our common and shared responsibilities for security and law and order,” he said.

A new Niger Delta militant group which goes by the name “the Niger Delta Avengers” has recently intensified bombings of oil and gas installations in parts of the region, thereby hampering production of crude and gas.

The group was reported to have attacked Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) facility twice in quick succession, affecting supply trunklines of crude oil to Warri and Kaduna refineries.

An attack on Chevron flow station feeding the Chevron Tank-farm in Warri South-West Government Area, Delta State, last Thursday night was also claimed by the group, which had vowed to cripple the oil and gas industry.

It was said to have also hit a gas line feeding Lagos and Abuja power plants just like the Valve Platform, an offshore oil facility belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited CNL located near Escravos, also in Warri South-west.

Punch with additional report from Tribune

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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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