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Rule of Law Group nails Attorney General on Misinformation

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  • As Reps uncover 169 ghost companies on N1trn rail contracts

The advocacy attention of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has, again, been drawn concerning a public sensitive report credited to the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister for Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, to the effect that “the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in the past 12 years since its creation, recovered over $2trillion or N400trillion from Nigeria’s criminal groups and public office holders”. The perfidiously false report was published in the front page of the Vanguard Newspaper of today, being 3rd of February 2016.

The AGF was copiously quoted by the Newspaper’s Ikechukwu Nnochiri as having made the disclosure in a keynote address presented at the ‘First Annual Conference on Financial Fraud, Cyber-Crime & Other Cross-border Crimes’, in Abuja, yesterday (2nd of February 2016. The AGF was specifically quoted as saying: “available reports showed that in the past 12 years, since the establishment of EFCC, more than $2 trillion has been confiscated and recovered”. Full details of the AGF’s unpardonably falsified report are: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/money-laundering-efcc-recovers-looted-2trn-in-12-years/.

We had in the course of issuance of this statement, gone extra mile to confirm the authenticity of the AGF’s blundered figure and  his authorship; leading to the management of the Vanguard Newspaper informing us this morning (3rd of February 2016) that “the AGF was not misquoted” and  that “it was contained in his written keynote address” delivered at the said Abuja function. They also informed us that “ before its publication, the reporter (Ikechukwu Nnochiri) was specifically requested to scan and forward the said keynote speech containing the “blundered version and figure” and he forwarded it immediately, leading to the publication and its front page use.

We have severally stated publicly and still state that “corruption is first driven by moral decadence or integrity crisis” and that those wishing to fight the scourge must first be morally upright or integrity rewarding. That is to say that “he or she that sets to go to equity, must go with clean hands at all times”. A man or woman that shaves his or her armpit hairs is not expectant of armpit dirt and offensive odour. A woman who wears a stained white brazier does not wear short sleeve gown to an occasion.

One of the greatest threats to fight against corruption is falsehood and propaganda. Another is unclean hands of those fighting it and those supporting those fighting it (i.e. CSOs and activists). One, out of plethora of governance undoing of the Buhari administration is its adoption of propaganda and falsehood as an official policy. A government that uses propaganda and falsehood as its official policy has inexcusably exposed itself before the citizens and international community as a government founded on turbulence, brigandage, rascality and violence. A grave danger of using falsehood and propaganda as official policy is that government utterances will always be taken with a pinch of salt and made summarily dismissive even if any is grounded on reality.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Nigeria’s Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established through an Act of the National Assembly of Nigeria, dated 13th December 2002 (now refers  as “EFCC Act of 2004”) and it started its operations in 2003 or during the second term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The creation of the Commission was partly in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which named Nigeria as one of 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community’s efforts to fight money laundering. The successes recorded by the Commission including loots recovery and effective and maximum use of technology and institutional mechanisms reached their peak between 2004 and 2007. The fame of EFCC and others like NAFDAC, got shrank from 2008 and upwards; owing to election and appointment of corruption friendly public officials as new set of heads of Nigeria’s Presidency, AGF, NAFDAC, Police and EFCC.

Just yesterday, 2nd of February 2016, we released a facts laden report of our recent investigation on the state of public budgets, loans and expenditures in Nigeria in the past 12 years; covering January 2005 to December 2016. The expenditures covered the 36 States, the Federal Government, the Niger Delta, the Federal Capital Territory and the country’s constitutionally recognized 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs). At the end, we found that the totality of public expenditures in Nigeria in the past 12 years, captured by various FGN, States, FCT and Niger Delta  budgets and LGAs allocations in Nigeria in the past 12 years (2005-2016) stood at $600billion or N118.2trillion.

We also found that Nigeria had in the past 10 years (2007-2016) borrowed a total of N10trillion or $50billion from local and international lending institutions. Of $600billion or N118.2trillion of the public expenditures under reference, only 30% of same or $180billion (N36trillion) was spent on capital projects. One of the reasons behind this special investigation is to checkmate the antics of some propagandist government officials and their unprofessional media acolytes, who recklessly and mindlessly inflate and corrupt figures and other sensitive public matters here and there for purposes of settling political scores and misleading Nigerians and members of the international community. The report is published on the electronic media below. HERE.

Using the foregoing indisputable statistics, therefore, it is totally correct to say Nigeria and its federating units including States, LGAs and Federal had never generated half of “$2trillion (N400trillion)” since the return of civil rule in June 1999; not to talk of the EFCC recovering “$2trillion in the past 12 years since its creation”.

Even if the total public expenditures of 2003 and 2004 are added to the total public expenditures of $600billion or N118.2 trillion under reference; covering January 2005 to December 2016, the total public expenditures including loans and generated funds; budgeted, allocated and expended since then is not more than $700billion or N140 trillion.

Our questions to the Honorable AGF and the Federal Government are: Where did “the $2trillion (N400trillion)” the EFCC recovered in the past 12 years come from? Where is it kept? Was it recovered from “looted” personnel cost budgets or overheads cost budgets? Or was it recovered from meager $180billion (+$30billion allocated for capital expenditures for 2003 and 2004) meant for capital expenditures from January 2005 to December 2016? Was it also recovered from oil bunkering? What are Nigeria’s total public expenditures from its three tiers since 2003? How much was recovered from “criminal groups” as well as “from public office holders”?

We challenge the AGF as well as the authorities of the EFCC to rubbish this position of ours by providing publicly concrete answers to the above questions and graphic details of how, where and when the EFCC recovered “$2 trillion or N400 trillion from criminal groups and public office holders” in the past 12 years, as well as statistical breakdown of the amount and how it was recovered, kept or spent. Also, “in the past 12 years since its (EFCC) creation”, requires detailed specification, as in from what year to what year did the 12 years cover?  We will not be surprised if defense of “being quoted out of context” is invoked by the AGF as an escape route. If this type of unpardonable falsehood can be dished out by the country’s law-lord or chief law officer, then Nigeria is doomed irreparably!

In the meantime, the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Failed Rail Contracts, yesterday, unearthed 169 ghost companies that registered as contractors with the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, for projects valued at N1 trillion.

The ad hoc committee raised the alarm yesterday, during the investigative hearing at the National Assembly, that none of the 169 companies invited by the committee had shown up.

Chairman of the committee, Johnson Agbonnayinman, (Ikpoba/Okha federal constituency), said the need to invite the contractors was important, but lamented that efforts to reach them had so far proven fruitless.

He added that so far only the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC, responded to the committee’s letter.

According to him, “you are duty bound to produce the contractors. They are nowhere to be found; they are not faceless but yet they cannot be reached.

“You gave them the job, so you should produce them; we are holding you responsible.”

The committee also asked the corporation’s MD, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, to make available the agency’s record of Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, between 2010 and 2014, and was also asked to tell the committee what the IGR was used for.

In response, the MD said the IGR was used to augment the agency’s overhead budget.

Intersociety 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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