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Smugglers Lose N219m Contraband To FOU, Owerri



  • As Ibori, Others may complete jail terms in Nigeria,  following prisoners’ transfer policy

The Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘C’ Owerri, an anti smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has impounded a 40 feet container load of two 2,000 cartons of imported frozen poultry products, cleverly concealed by 3,300 crates of Lacasara drinks, with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N53,300,000.

The items which were intercepted on the Benin express way – Edo State were suspected to have been preserved with chemicals, meant for the preservation of dead bodies by the smugglers.

Comptroller Haruna Mamudu and Mr. David W. West

Comptroller Haruna Mamudu and Mr. David W. West

The seizure, according to Customs Area Controller in charge of the Unit, Comptroller Haruna Mamudu came on the heels of an earlier seizure of one 1,500 cartons of the same hazardous products in January, 2016 by the unit.

Comptroller Mamudu while briefing newsmen at the Customs house premises in Benin Edo state, explained that the recent seizure of imported frozen poultry products coincided with the end of February month report, which he noted,  offered the Unit 27 seizures with a DPV of N219,239,208.21.

Ifeoma Onuigbo, PRO FOU command, Zone C

Ifeoma Onuigbo, PRO FOU command, Zone C

Comptroller Haruna explained that in addition to the Seizures, 12 suspects were also arrested while N65,434,441 underpayment was equally recovered during the month.

Comptroller Haruna stressed the consequences of continued importation and consumption of unauthorized products in the country, and regretted that such products easily come in because of their relatively cheap prices which usually attract members of the public, especially the youth.

Before he subsequently handed over the impounded fake drugs to officials of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Director in Edo State, Mr. David W. West, alongside some other sister agencies heads present,  he warned those still engrossed in the illicit act of smuggling, as well as their collaborators and agents to desist forthwith in their own interest, or be prepared to face the full weight of the law.

He wondered why smuggling of contraband goods had remained unabated in the country despite stiff penalties for culprits arrested and urged well meaning Nigerians with useful information about smugglers to make them available to relevant government agencies for necessary action.

He maintained that the NCS in pursuance of the policy of zero tolerance to corruption by the Federal Government would ensure that there is no hiding place for smugglers.

“Zero tolerance to corruption is now on. It is being pursued with vigour by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtrd.) and we are leaving no stones unturned,  to ensure it success!” he concluded.

In the meantime, Nigerians serving jail terms in the United Kingdom will soon be transferred to Nigeria to complete their period, following an agreement signed yesterday between the Federal Government and the UK government.

According to a top government source, former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, will be part of those that will be repatriated to complete their jail term in Nigeria.

Ibori still has more than six months to stay in prison.

The British government has also promised to give Nigeria one million pounds (about N280 million) to assist in the comprehensive reformation of Nigerian prisons to ease the stress of the inmates.

The United Kingdom Minister of Justice, Mr. Jeremy Wright, revealed this when he led the UK team to visit the Minister of Interior to finalise the process of prisoner exchange between the two countries.

He said under the agreement, which he signed, Nigerians in British prisons would be repatriated to complete their jail terms in the country.

Wright told the minister the importance of the two countries respecting the agreement, saying there is need for the state of prisons in Nigeria to be improved.

Wright, who led a five-man delegation to the ministry, said even though the prisoners were paying for the crimes they might have committed, conditions in detention centres where they were staying should be made humane and accommodating.

He hailed the Federal Government and the Minister of Interior for making it possible for the two countries to finalise the agreement, which would lead to the mutual exchange of prisoners and said efforts would be made to foster the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Additional report from Nation


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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