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SMUGGLING: 3 CHINESE TO BE DEPORTED

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…OVER MASSIVE ILLEGAL IMPORTATION OF TEXTILES 

Three, out of the five Chinese businessmen behind the massive illegal importation of  textiles to Kano are to be deported from Nigeria, as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) begins a new onslaught to weed out foreigners without legal stay, yet engaging in illegalities.

The decision was taken on Tuesday, after a joint visitation and inspection by the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi and his Immigration Service counterpart, David Parradang. of the massive contraband centres; and the papers of the businessmen, alleged to be connected with it.

Prior to their digging beyond the surface, the unfounded story making the round was that the Customs had swooped on the illegal warehouses in Kano, because those operating them were all Muslims and Northerners, who were slated to be witch hunted, because the two groups (Northerners and Muslims) did not vote for President Goodluck Jonathan.

However, it could now be confirmed that the five Chinese nationals involved in the operation of illegal warehouses in Kano, where multi-billion Naira prohibited textile materials were uncovered by Customs anti-smuggling operatives were neither Northerners, nor Muslims. 

Comptroller- General of Immigration, David Parradang,, disclosed that investigations by his officers revealed that three out of the five Chinese nationals do not possess valid travel documents to reside and engage in any business in Nigeria.

Subsequently, immediate steps would therefore be taken to effect their  deportation, even as investigations would continue in progress to ascertain the immigration status of the other two.

“The Service will also, intensify routine mop-up operations to ease out irregular immigrants”, indicated Paradang, stressing that only “law-abiding persons, legitimately contributing to national economic development through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and technology  transfer will be encouraged and given every possible assistance”.

He gave the names of those involved as Gao Guoxu, aged  26 with passport No E12893246, Li Yang, 28 ,with Passport  No E39324316 and Zhang Jiantao, 26 with Passport No E00078159.; Zhao Shoumin, 26 with Passport No E32882412,  and Zhou Jinxue, 35 with Passport No E23094307.

Reacting to insinuations that there are more foreign nationals doing illegal business in Nigeria, the CG Immigrations appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to oblige the Service with relevant information about such foreigners.

Meanwhile, a team of Customs Valuation Officers are still collating the textile seizures to determine the quantity and value. 

The Comptroller General of Customs, Dikko Inde Abdullahi said the team has concluded  the exercise in only one of the 7 warehouses that were sealed up by his men.  

The Customs Service Boss further disclosed that textiles items discovered in the warehouse has presently been valued at N4.2 billion.

He told newsmen that the objective of the joint operation in Kano was towards salvaging the national economy through the protection of the local textile industry, noting that the huge seizure was made through intelligence network cultivated over a period of 3 months.

Pointing out that it could mo longer be denied that some foreigners could be sabotaging Nigerian economy through their illegal business, Dikko Inde Abdullahi highlighted that the NCS would make report to the appropriate authorities of the Federal Government to seek direction, in view of its sheer volume.

It would be recalled that, the Comptroller General’s anti- Smuggling unit stormed 6 warehouses in Gandun Albasa area of Kano, where textiles worth billions of Naira were uncovered, two weeks ago.

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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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