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Saraki loses again as CCT affirms jurisdiction



The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Thursday dismissed the motion by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, seeking to quash the 13 counts of false and anticipatory asset declaration preferred against him.

The Danladi Umar-led tribunal resolved all the issues raised by the Senate President against him and affirmed that it had jurisdiction to hear the case.

Umar, who read the ruling, directed that the next thing was for the prosecution to open its case.

Thursday made the second time the tribunal would be affirming its jurisdiction to preside over Saraki’s trial, the Senate President having earlier challenged it up till when the Supreme Court validated his trial in its judgment delivered on February 5, 2016.

In its ruling on Thursday, Umar ruled that contrary to Saraki’s contention, the Attorney-General of the Federation was competent to institute charges before the CCT.

The tribunal ruled that Saraki’s contention that he was being prosecuted for offences allegedly committed about 13 years ago was out of place.

The CCT chairman agreed with the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) that, that the argument by Saraki that there must be official complaint against him within a reasonable time of his submitting the declaration, was baseless.

The tribunal chairman held that there could be no clearance by implication, unless it was expressly stated by the statutes and time never ran against the state.

“It is not out of place to charge the accused person now and ask him to answer to the charges against him as there is no statute of limitation in relation to his case,” Umar said.

The CCT chairman rejected Saraki’s contention that the Attorney General of the Federation was without powers to initiate and prosecute cases before the tribunal.

It also faulted  Saraki’s reliance on its (CCT’s) earlier ruling dismissing the charges against a former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu.

Saraki had argued that under section 3(d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act,  the Code  Code of Conduct Bureau ought to have confronted him with the alleged infractions in his asset declaration forms before charges were instituted against him.

The Senate President is being prosecuted by the Federal Government for the alleged breaches in the four forms which he submitted to the CCB as  Governor of Kwara State between 1999 and 2007.

He contended in his motion that the CCB’s failure to confront him with the alleged infractions had rendered the charges incompetent.

The CCT held on Thursday that it had since realised that the ruling discharging Tinubu on that grounds was made in error.

It ruled, “The accused persons relied on the decision of this tribunal in the Federal Republic of Nigerian versus Bola Tinubu that was delivered on November 30, 2011. That decision was given per incuriam (given without following principles of law).”

He held that the provision of Paragraph 3(e) of Part I of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution had removed  and omitted the proviso relied on by the Senate President.

“That proviso that is repeated in Section 3(d) of the CCB/T Act cannot be sustained any longer under the 1999 Constitution. The decision in Tinubu’s case was given per incuriam and the tribunal should not follow such a decision,” he said.

The tribunal chairman dismissed Saraki’s claim that he was denied a fair hearing because he was not invited to make a written statement before the filing of the charges.

He held that the argument was premature and could be raised during the hearing of the substantive case.

“The motion by the defendant to quash the charge against him is refused. In the final analysis, the tribunal assumes jurisdiction in this case. The prosecution is to invite its witness,” he ruled.

After the ruling, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said he was ready to go on with the case as his first prosecution witness was in court.

But the lead defence counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), asked for an adjournment to prepare for trial.

The tribunal chairman agreed with the defence counsel, insisting that criminal cases must not be rushed.

He noted that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, was though aimed at achieving expeditious hearing of criminal cases, the CCT recognised  the need for the accused person to be given adequate time to prepare its defence.

He said, “We do not need to rush. We need to proceed carefully in the interest of justice and to ensure that justice is done to all parties.

“The ACJ Act did not say the defendants should not be given adequate time to prepare its defence.”

The trial was adjourned till April 5.



WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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