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Senate orders arrest of Lamorde, ex-EFCC boss

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  • As Reps summon Adeosun, Udo-Udoma, Emefiele

The Senate, on Thursday, gave the go ahead to its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, headed by Senator Sam Anyanwu, to issue a warrant of arrest on former chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim  Lamorde.

The committee, which investigated a petition against Lamorde by George Oboh, who alleged mismanagement of over N1 trillion funds, had asked the Senate for the order to issue the warrant of arrest against Lamorde to enable him to answer for activities during his tenure.

Senator Anyanwu, while presenting the report of his committee, narrated all efforts taken to have Lamorde present himself before the committee to no avail.

He read the committee’s recommendation, seeking for the order of the Senate to issue warrant of arrest on Lamorde.

But the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediately raised a point of order, in which he enlightened the Senate that the order being sought by Ethics committee was not necessary.

“Section 88(1) and 89 (1) (1-5) of the constitution clearly stipulated the mechanism for the two arms of the legislature in summoning persons and also generating warrants in case of disobedience to the summon by the concerned person,” he said.

Ekweremadu said the Senate at plenary did not need to empower the committee to issue warrant of arrest, adding that the committee could go ahead and issue warrant of arrest once a person disobeyed its summons.

He explained that the power to issue the warrant lies with the committee and not the Senate in session, adding that that the right thing should be done.

“So what is required here is for the committee to issue a warrant of arrest and then the Senate President will direct the police to effect the arrest. It is not the business of the Senate during the plenary to do so, otherwise we will be offending this part of the constitution.

“So the issue of warrant of arrest is not something that we will take a resolution on, the resolution has already been taken by the committee.

“If there is any consequential order that needs to be made, the committee can deal with that and direct it through the Office of the President of the Senate, which will direct the police to effect the warrant,” he said.

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, agreed with Ekweremadu that the Senate in plenary did not need to issue warrant of arrest.

He, therefore, ruled that the committee should do the right thing by issuing the warrant of arrest on Lamorde.

“The issue has been well spelt out by the Deputy Senate President. Based on the constitution, this matter does not need to come to us at plenary.

“It should be left at the level of the committee and in accordance with Section 89 of the Constitution. So I will sustain the point of order of the Deputy Senate President,” he said.

The committee, headed by Senator Anyanwu, had recommended that “to save the National Assembly as the highest lawmaking body of the nation from irreparable damage to its reputation and capacity to summon, the former EFCC chairman, lbrahim Lamorde, must be compelled to appear before the committee to answer for the activities of his tenure.”

Larmode had been invited three times by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges to defend himself against a petition raised and sent to the Senate by Dr George Uboh, who accused him of corrupt acts.

In the petition, Dr Uboh alleged that under Lamorde, “EFCC operated accounts in banks to warehouse recovered funds which do not reflect in EFCC audited accounts; EFCC doctors and manipulates bank accounts to conceal diversion of funds; EFCC releases recovered funds to unidentified persons and EFCC officials and that over 95 per cent of EFCC recoveries in foreign currencies, other than those from multinational companies have been diverted,” among others.

The Senate had, through letters dated August 19, 2015, November 3, 2015, and November 11, 2015, summoned Lamorde but all invitations were tacitly turned down by the former EFCC boss.

The first letter, written on August 19, 2015 and signed by the clerk, Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Freedom Osolo, read: “I am directed to invite you to a meeting of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions of the National Assembly, in respect of a petition brought to the Senate by Dr George Uboh, the Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems (PASS), a non-governmental organisation, and referred to the committee by the Senate for detailed legislative Invstogation.

“You are, by this invitation, required to appear before the committee with all necessary evidence to support your presentation.

“The meeting is scheduled as follows: Date: Wednesday, 26th August, 2015

Venue: Meeting Room 120, New Senate Building. Time: 12: 00pm.”

In the second letter, also signed by Osolo, the committee wrote: “the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions read with mild surprise, your written response to its invitation sent to you to enable it investigate the allegations levelled against you, a public servant, and wondered why you had to connect the independent investigation of a serious allegation by a committee of the Senate with your routine annual responsibility to the National Assembly or the Senate President’s previous invitation to a briefing.

“The above notwithstanding, I am directed to invite you (one more time) to a meeting of the committee scheduled as follows: Date: Tuesday, 10th November, 2015. Venue: Meeting Room 120, 1st floor, New Building, National Assembly Complex,  Abuja. Time: 2.00 p.m.”

The third letter, written by the same clerk and dated November 11, 2015 read: “Your letter referenced EFCC/EC/NA-SEN/06/64, dated 5th November, 2015 seeking a new date and time to enable you to attend the meeting of the committee was received.

“The committee, in its magnanimity, has rescheduled the meeting to accommodate your complaint as follows: Date: Tuesday, 17th November, 2015. Venue: Meeting Room 120, 1st Floor, New Senate Building, National Assembly Complex, Abuja. Time: 2.00 p.m.

“The committee has further directed that you be informed that it would not accept any further excuses for your non-appearance as such would not be taken lightly.”

Reacting to the warrant arrest order, legal practitioner, Festus Keyamo, acting on behalf of Lamorde, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase and other law enforcement agencies to disregard the order as given by the Senate.

Keyamo stated that such warrant of arrest amounted to the IGP and other security agencies being accomplices in an “illegal scheme.”

Keyamo premised his position on the fact that Lamorde had instituted a court case challenging the powers of the Senate to investigate him at a time he had vacated office, which was pending and yet to be determined by the court.

“We respectfully urge the Inspector General of Police and other law enforcement agencies to disregard any such warrant of arrest (if issued) and resist the invitation to drag themselves into this illegal scheme,” Keyamo wrote.

He said when matters were pending before a court of law, all parties were expected to maintain status quo pending the determination of the matter, adding that in any event, the Senate standing rules are clear to the effect that matters pending before a court of law should not be deliberated upon or discussed on the floor of the Senate or any of its committees.

“The conducts of the Senate and the committee amount to legislative rascality as they seek to usurp the powers of the judiciary and to undermine its authority. We most respectfully urge the Nigeria Police to await the outcome of the matter pending in court before deciding one way or the other about the enforcement of the said warrant of arrest, if eventually issued,” he said.

Quoting Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution, Keyamo had contended that Lamorde was not summoned at all because the committee issued an invitation letter and not summons.

“Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that only a person presently occupying a public office can be investigated by the Senate in relation to that office and since at the time of this invitation, our client had vacated the office, he could no longer be made the subject of any investigation by the Senate.

“We contended however, that, any Nigerian can be summoned by the Senate as a witness in any matter. Despite these cogent objections, the committee denied us audience and threatened to have our client arrested.

“As a law abiding citizen, our client instructed us to institute an action at the Federal High Court seeking an interpretation of the powers of the Senate with respect to investigations.

“In compliance with our client’s instructions, we instituted the said suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/934/15 on 19th November, 2015 at the Federal High Court and it was assigned to Justice G. O. Kolawole sitting at Federal High Court 8, Abuja.

“Both the Senate and the committee were served with the originating summons and a motion seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining the Senate from continuing with their investigations, pending the determination of the suit,” Keyamo said.

The suit, according to him, came up before Justice G.O. Kolawole for hearing on December 9, 2015 and  February 10, 2016, adding that on both occasions, hearing notices were served on the Senate and the committee but on both occasions, they were absent and unrepresented by legal practitioners.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations yesterday summoned Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and that of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, for a special session on the 2016 budget proposal. The committee also declared that today is the final day of budget reports collection from committees.

Others invited by the Committee are; Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, and Director General, Budget Office of the Federation. The meeting is part of efforts toward addressing grey areas relating to alleged infractions and padding observed by various standing committees during interface with ministers and heads of Departments and Agencies, MDAs.

While giving update on the presentation of the budget so far, Chairman House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, confirmed that the budget proposals of the MDAs being presented by all the standing committees have been harmonised with their Senate counterparts.

“Since by tomorrow (today), we will finish taking the reports, we have agreed that we will invite the Minister of Budge and Planning, Minister of Finance, the Accountant -General of the Federation, the Director of Budget Office and Central Bank Governor and engage them extensively on the entire budget.

“We also have pending issues on the 2015 budget, so they have to come with 2015 budget performance and then we will go into special session,” Jibrin stated.

He also directed the Clerk of the Committee to liaise with the office of the Clerk of the House to access the members’ data base for easy dispatch of message to all the 360 members and various committees on the 25th February deadline for final submission and consideration of the MDAs budget.

In a communication from the Appropriations Committee read at the opening of the plenary session yesterday, Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, directed chairmen of all the standing committees to submit and defend their MDAs budget within 24 hours.

Out of the 97 standing committees, only 15 have so far submitted and defended their budget before the Jibrin-led Appropriations Committee.

Considering the enormous work before the committee, Jibrin informed all the members that the last session is scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. would start by 8.p.m. Briefing journalists, Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, said by this directive, the House was making deliberate effort to get the budget passed in good time.

He said the House would ensure that the budget is passed by second week of March, or at most, before Easter.

“We are committed to ensuring that the budget is passed before the middle of March or before the Easter break,” Namdas said. The Speaker also yesterday assured the budget would be passed by the end of March. “Hopefully by the end of next month, we will have the 2016 budget ready,” he said while receiving in audience Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, in his office.

Dogara said although, there were some imperfections in the budget, the lawmakers would ensure that it would impact positively on the lives of Nigerians. He said lawmakers were aware of the responsibilities placed on them in making sure they scrutinise and certify a good budget and that they were liaising with heads MDAS to produce a wholesome document.

Tribune 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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