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Sierra Leone Maritime Administration Seeks Partnership with NIMASA



  • As Saraki faces fresh charges before conduct tribunal

The Sierra-Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) has solicited the support of its Nigerian counterpart, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the areas of capacity building of its personnel for effective Port State Control and training of seafarers.

The SLMA Board Chairman, Mr. Lansana Dambuya, who led a delegation of Board Members and Management to NIMASA on working visit, commended NIMASA for its capacity building initiatives saying it was a model worthy of emulation.

He said the delegation believed it was wiser, to partner with NIMASA, being one of the leading Maritime Administrations in Africa and to seek areas of collaboration for the benefit of both countries.

The delegation canvassed for the endorsement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NIMASA, capable of providing an opportunity for the exchange of ideas among staff, not only to develop their capacities but also further cement the bond between both countries.

In his response, the NIMASA Director General,  Dr.  Dakuku Peterside commended the SLMA for embarking on the working visit and assured the delegation of NIMASA’s cooperation at all times.

“We are open more than ever before to collaboration and sharing of intelligence on issues relating to piracy and other crimes in order to rid our waters of this menace that has clearly become a danger to our collective prosperity”,  the DG who was represented by the Director of Maritime Labour Services, Mrs Juliana Gunwa indicated, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts in order to ensure the growth and development of the maritime industry in Africa.

Tracing the history of the cordial relationship Nigeria has had with Sierra Leone, the DG assured the delegation that the Agency will consider their requests and act accordingly for the benefit of both countries.

Dakuku called on countries of the Gulf of Guinea to join the fight against rising cases of piracy in the region, welcoming the call for collaboration amongst Maritime Administrations; noting that there would always be need for co-operate with each other for mutual security of the African continent’s maritime environment.

In the meantime, the Federal Government has amended the charges of false asset declaration preferred against Senate President Bukola Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja.

With the amended charges, which were filed on Monday, Saraki will be facing two fresh counts in addition to the 13 originally preferred against him.

The original 13 counts comprise false asset declaration and maintaining of offshore account while serving as Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

The additional charges include allegation that Saraki continued to receive salaries and emoluments as governor of Kwara State after the expiration of his tenure and at the same time, and from the Federal Government, as a Senator between June 2011 and October 2013.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 6(a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. CAP. C15, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and as incorporated under paragraph 2(a), Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.

It is said to be punishable under Section 23(2) of the code of conduct bureau and tribunal act as incorporated under paragraph 18, Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.

The other additional charge is that Saraki failed to declare to the Code of Conduct Bureau on assumption of office as Governor of Kwara State in 2003, his leasehold interest in the property at 42 Remi Fani-Kayode Street, Ikeja, Lagos.

He was said to have acquired the property in December 12,1996, through his company, Sky View Properties Limited which the firm purchased from First Finance Trust Limited.

Earlier at the tribunal on Thursday, a heated argument between the CCT chairman, Dandali Usman, and a new lawyer in the Senate President’s legal team, Mr. Raphael Oluyede, had threatened to disrupt the proceedings of the day.

The turmoil, which was characterised by a hot verbal exchange between the tribunal chairman and Oluyede, started when the lawyer was introducing a motion in which he asked the judge to disqualify himself from further presiding over the trial.

The situation degenerated to the level when the judge threatened Oluyede with imprisonment and ordered police to take him away from the courtroom.

The lawyer, in response, accused the judge of being biased in his handling of the trial due to the “cloudy relationships” between him and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

There was confusion in the courtroom while the situation lasted as lawyers, including the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), pleaded with the tribunal chairman to be calm, while on the other hand, counsel in the defence team asked Oluyede to cease fire.

At the commencement of the proceedings on Thursday, after lawyers had announced appearances, Jacobs informed the tribunal that the business of the day was further cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Mr. Michael Wetkas.

Mr. Adebayo Adelodun (SAN), the lawyer, who initially led the defence in the absence of the leader of the team, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), obtained the tribunal’s permission to allow Oluyede to make some comments about the motion.

The application filed by Oluyede asked Umar to disqualify himself from further handling the trial on the basis that he (Umar) was allegedly under criminal investigation by the EFCC.

Oluyede also argued in the motion that Umar would likely be biased in conducting the trial because the EFCC was allegedly leading the prosecution of Saraki before the CCT.

He is the lawyer, whose suit, seeking to stop the trial before the CCT, was dismissed by Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday.

The lawyer was introducing the motion when Jacobs interrupted by saying the business of the day was not for hearing of any motion but for further cross-examination of the prosecution witness.

He said he had declined to accept service of the motion because Oluyede was still a stranger in the case as of the time he filed it on Wednesday.

Jacobs added that he decided not to accept the service because Agabi had confirmed to him that he was not aware of the motion and that he did not authorise its filing.

He said, “The business of the day is for cross-examination. Yesterday (Wednesday) he (Oluyede) attempted to serve me a copy of this motion and I declined.

“As of the time he filed this motion yesterday, he had never appeared in this case. He appeared for the first time yesterday. He filed the motion on his own right as a lawyer.

“So, I said I would not accept the motion based on Section 349 (7) and (8) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.”

According to Jacobs, by virtue of the law, a new lawyer can only appear in a criminal case after the former one, seeking to quit, has given notice to the court at least three days before the next hearing date.

Umar, who was at that point visibly angry, passed the EFCC letter exonerating him of the alleged N10m bribery scam, which was the basis for the fresh motion, to Jacobs.

Describing the motion as rubbish, Umar faulted Adelodun’s decision to yield the floor to Oluyede to speak on the motion.

He said, “How can you allow such rubbish thing to happen when you know that he (Oluyede) filed it as his own right and not with the approval of the lead counsel?

“A motion filed by a mere busybody is not accepted by this tribunal.

“As far as this tribunal is concerned, that motion has not been filed and it is thrown away.”

But in his response, Adelodun insisted that it was within the right of the defence to yield the floor to any member of its team.

He added that it was elementary in law that lawyers had the right to file any motion no matter how frivolous and the judge was duty-bound to rule on it.

Attempts by Oluyede to speak again were refused by Umar, who repeatedly asked the lawyer to “sit down”.

Oluyede, however, thundered back, “I will not be browbeaten not to speak. There are too many cloudy relationships between you and the EFCC and that is why you have been biased in this case and that is why we are asking you to disqualify yourself.”

The judge, who became angrier, threatened to send Oluyede to prison.

“I will commit you to prison for committing contempt. This is a contempt committed in the face of the court.

“Where are the police? They should come and take this man away,” the judge said.

Oluyede flared back,  “You will commit me to prison for doing my job?”

About five policemen approached Oluyede, but instead of arresting the lawyer, they tried to calm down the counsel, who had, by then, resumed his seat.

With peace restored in the courtroom, Jacobs urged the tribunal chairman to be patient, as he reiterated that the EFCC had since March, 2015, cleared him (Umar) of the allegations referred to in the motion while the charges against Saraki were only filed before the CCT in September, 2015.

Jacobs added, “My lord, be patient as you have always been. The application is based on a false premise. The EFCC has cleared you since March 2015. This charge was only filed in September 2015.

“We will handle the application as we effectively did at the Federal High Court. We will expose the frivolity of the application even to the person who filed it.”

A defence counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), who later took over as the leader of the team, walked in as peace was restored in the courtroom.

Without making any reference to the drama that took place before his arrival, Usoro simply informed the tribunal that the defence was ready to continue the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness.

However, in the middle of the cross-examination of the witness by Usoro, Agabi walked in and apologised for what had transpired in his absence.

He confirmed that Oluyede was a member of the defence team and urged the tribunal chairman “to accommodate” him.

Agabi added, “More and more people are coming to make you angry. Are you going to commit all of them to prison?”

Umar said if not for the intervention of the other counsel, Oluyede would have been imprisoned.

The judge said, “The motion was filed for mischievous reasons.

“If not for the intervention of the other counsel, he should have been cooling his feet in prison. We have a cell here and he could be transferred elsewhere later.”

Our correspondent learnt on Thursday,  shortly after Saraki’s ongoing trial before the CCT was adjourned till April 27 for further cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, that the Federal Government might further amend the charges before they will be read to the accused person.

Additional report from Punch


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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