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Russia Ingushetia: Journalists and activists ‘beaten up’

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  • As FRSC says: Over-speeding killed Ocholi, others

Unknown assailants have beaten up a group of journalists and human rights activists in the south Russian region of Ingushetia, reports say.

The attackers reportedly stopped the bus on which the group was travelling to neighbouring Chechnya, removed those on board and set the vehicle on fire.

Two foreign reporters, from Sweden and Norway, are said to be in the group.

Reports suggest the group was making an unofficial press tour to investigate human rights abuses.

According to a Russian non-governmental organisation involved in the group, the Committee to Prevent Torture, those attacked required hospital treatment afterwards.

A journalist travelling in the group tweeted a photo of a burning vehicle, saying the group had just been attacked.

Going online an hour after the incident, he wrote, “We’re okay, we’re talking to the police, all are alive,” then added his phone battery was dying.

Igor Kalyapin, who chairs the NGO and is a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, reported the attack on the council’s website (in Russian).

Unidentified persons travelling in three cars stopped the bus at 19:15 (16:15 GMT) and attacked the occupants, taking away two mobile phones, he said.

A lawyer for the NGO told AFP news agency the attack near the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya was likely to have been orchestrated by Chechens.

“This would not be in the interest of the Ingushetia side, this would be in the interest of the Chechen side,” Dmitry Utukin told AFP, because Chechnya had paid “a lot of attention” to the work of the committee and journalists operating on its territory.

Separately, Mr Utukin told a Russian commercial internet station, TV Rain, that the eight-strong group on the bus had been beaten with sticks.

The bus was completely burnt out, along with personal effects such as passports and recording equipment, he added.

In the meantime, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, yesterday said over speeding led to the car crash which claimed the lives of Minister of State for Labour, James Ocholi, his wife and son last Sunday on the Kaduna-Abuja road. FRSC Corps Marshall, Boboye Oyeyemi, who presented an interim report to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, said the investigation team into the accident, also discovered that Ocholi’s driver had no driver’s licence.

He noted that the late minister, his wife and the son were not putting on safety seat belts when the accident occurred. Oyeyemi added that the investigation team discovered that the vehicle conveying the late minister had no walkietalkie. He also told FEC presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari that the tyres of the vehicle were not properly fixed while the alignment was not also properly done. Buhari later led other ministers, including that of Labour, Agriculture, Water Resources, State for Health, State for Niger Delta, State for Foreign Affairs to pay tributes to the late minister.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Lawal Babachir, said the President had approved that government would take full responsibility for the burial. According to him, a 13-man burial committee chaired by himself, had been set up with Ministers of Labour, Health, Water Resources and Trade and Investment as members. He said other members of the committee would include Ocholi’s sister, brother as well as Kogi State deputy governor.

Babachir also disclosed that the president also approved that Ocholi’s two children who are graduates be employed by the Federal Government, while two others who are still in school would be given scholarship to the university level. Speaking on the burial arrangement, Babachir said the late minister would be buried in his hometown, Dekina, Kogi State on March 18.

Babachir at a press briefing shortly after the FEC meeting said the Federal Government would wait for the full report from FRSC in order to determine whether Ocholi’s driver, Taiwo James Elegbede, would be held liable for the cause of the accident While answering question from State House Correspondents, Babachir said the Federal Executive Council meeting pointed out that “no matter how careful one is, accidents do happen.” Babachir said he was not aware of any allegation by the family of Ocholi that they suspected foul play in the accident.

BBC with additional report from National 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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