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Seme Customs In Spectacular Harvest Of Duty From Rice

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…As EFCC prepares to quiz Metuh over N1.4b in firm’s account

The Seme Border Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may have become a major beneficiary of the recent lifting of ban on rice movement through the land borders, as the command, in unprecedented manner, exceeded its monthly target in November and December, 2015.

The Comptroller General of Customs  (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) ordered the ban-lift, removing the policy which restricted importation of rice to only the seaports, saying it was better to boost revenue, than encourage smuggling.

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

The Command exceeded its November revenue target of N1,021,790,667.33 with 25% excess collection. In December, it  collected the sum of N1,420,219,873.03 which exceeded the monthly revenue target with N398,429,206.30.

The Command also made 17 seizures with a Duty Paid Value(DPV) of N6,967,260.00 for the month of December 2015.

“The  Command consecutively performed excellently in terms of revenue generation, as the performance indicators for the months of November and December hit the roof”, declared the Command arrowhead, Deputy Comptroller, H.A. Sabo, lauding the determination and commitment of his officers and men.

“The Seme Area Command of Nigeria Customs Service has once again demonstrated an unprecedented zeal in actualising one out of the tripatite core mandates of the Comptroller General of Customs as contained in the CGC’s policy thrust.

“This  translated to about 40 percent excess collection. The December 2015 collection also exceeded the November 2015 collection with N146,984,814.12 which represent an unprecedented figure that has never been recorded since the creation of Seme Area Command”, he indicated further, adding that rice was strictly processed according to the official bench mark price of $470 per metric tonne.

The Acting Customs Area Controller also used the opportunity to call on the stakeholders, the host community and the mass media to support the service in order to achieve its mandate of revenue generation, suppression of smuggling and facilitation of legitimate trade across the frontier and security at the border.

Meanwhile, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives probing the $2.1 billion arms contracts have traced N1.4billion to the account of a company allegedly linked with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman  Olisa Metuh.

There were indications yesterday that the account of the company, Destra Investment Limited, may be frozen when the ongoing probe gets to a “convenient bend”.

The anti-graft commission has placed the activities of the company and its bank transactions under surveillance.

The Department of State Service (DSS) has also invited Metuh for interaction on some issues.

The DSS’ invitation has, however, attracted protests from some PDP leaders.

According to sources, EFCC investigators discovered that Destra Investment Limited was used to fund the PDP’s activities, including its 2015 campaign.

The EFCC found that the company, which had N6, 676,576.06 as at November 24, 2014, recorded a balance of N1.4billion by last December.

Some of the strange deposits in the account are: N400million from the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) on November 24th, 2014; N253million ( December 2nd and 4th, 2014) from Ibrahim Kabiru whose identity was yet to be confirmed; N91million on 2nd December 2014 from Capital Field Investment; and N92million on 3rd December 2014 from Etonye Oyintoneife.

A source in the commission said: “We will invite Metuh any moment from now for clarifications on some of these transactions in this firm, which he allegedly owns.

“From our records, part of the $2.1billion arms cash has been traced to Destra Investment Limited. About N400million was transferred from ONSA to the company on November 24, 2014 which had a balance of N6, 676,576.06 only before major in flow from the ONSA.

“By December 2015, the owner of Destra had a turnover of over N1.4billion. There is no document  to show that the company executed any job for ONSA. All companies engaged by ONSA appeared before the initial Special Investigative Panel raised by the Presidency.

“Other documents indicated that Metuh was allegedly on a monthly unexplained stipend of N4million cash from ONSA.

“Out of the funds in Destra account, N25million was paid to Abba Dabo, a former Senior Special Assistant Political to former Vice President Namadi Sambo on the 16th of December 2014.

“Also, about N21,776,000 was remitted on 4th December 2014 to an account allegedly belonging to a former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih; N31.5million to his media aide and N50 million to Metuh/Kanayo on the same transaction date.

“We have also established a link between Capital Field Investment and SEI Societe d’equipments Internanaux-Niamey-Niger BP 11737 which was  hired by ONSA to purchase  €3,654,121million security vehicles for the Republic of Niger in October 2013 and April 2014.”

Metuh has accused the EFCC of subjecting him to media trial, The EFCC source rejected the accusation, saying: “Metuh is not on media trial at all but he is being investigated and the public should know why he is under searchlight.

“You will recall that the EFCC did not talk about the ongoing probe until Metuh openly admitted that he got some funds from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan but he refused to disclose the amount and the purpose.

“When he was aware that this commission was closing in on him, he also said some forces were after him. We refused to join the political fray because we are a professional agency.

“But we owe Nigerians a duty to reveal the facts at our disposal to let them appreciate the extent of what we are doing. EFCC is not out to witch-hunt anybody or group; we will, however, recover all traceable funds meant for arms.”

The source claimed that “the account of Destra and accruing transactions have been placed on surveillance.

“If there is need to freeze the account, we will do so later but we are yet to get to this investigative level, “ the top source added.

Reacting last night, Metuh told our correspondent: “Since they are doing a one-sided prosecution without invitation to me, they should continue and get their conviction by the media. Anytime I get invitation, I will honour it.

“I don’t know whether they are investigating the company I have interest in or my office as the National Publicity Secretary of PDP. Whichever one, my hands are very clean in this matter. I am ready to honour their invitation.

“I have not done anything unlawful. Whatever I have done in pursuance of my office, I can defend it anywhere, any time.”

There was disquiet in PDP following Metuh’s invitation by the DSS.

It was learnt that the invitation had to do with payment of about N9m-N10million to the Anambra State chapter of PDP about five years ago.

A party source said: “I think the APC government is just out to silence Metuh at all cost. What  has he done to deserve the recurring pressure and intimidation?

“When the PDP was in power, the APC was allowed to criticise the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. There is no way Metuh can be isolated from PDP, which he represents. We are unhappy as a party that they are trying to muzzle the opposition.

“It is not in the interest of our democracy  to go after opposition leaders and coerce them into silence. What has Metuh got to do with a five-year issue in Anambra State?”

Additional report from Nation

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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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