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Stena Impero Could Soon Be Released, Iran Said



Tanker Age Discrimination Detrimental for Environmental Goals, Stena Bulk Argues

The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero could be released after finalization of legal proceeding against the vessel, Reuters cited the Iranian state television.

The country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi reportedly said that he hopes “the procedures will be completed soon and this tanker will be released.”

The ship was detained near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations in July, only weeks after the Royal Marines and Gibraltar authorities seized the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, due to suspicions of violating EU sanctions on Syria.

Just last week, Iran released seven of the 23 Stena Impero crew members after the ship’s owner, Stena Bulk, requested the removal of non-essential personnel.

Also read:  Stena Bulk Meets Iran’s Foreign Minister over Stena Impero Release

“We view this communication as a positive step on the way to the release of all the remaining crew, which has always been our primary concern and focus,” Erik Hanell, President and CEO, Stena Bulk, earlier said.

Sixteen crew members will remain on board according to the vessel’s Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (MSMC).

After it was detained, Stena Impero remains at anchor at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.



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Customs Announces 90-Day Window To Pay Duty On Improperly Imported Vehicles



…As CGC Jump-starts 2-Day ICT/ Upgrade Retreat for Management Team

In a proactive move to enhance compliance and streamline import processes, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), under the directive of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, has announced a 90-day window for regularizing import duties on specific categories of vehicles.

This initiative applies solely to vehicles imported into Nigeria where the requisite Customs duty has not been fulfilled or vehicles detained due to undervaluation.

A statement issued by the. National Public Relations Officer of the Service, CSC Abdullahi Maiwada, clarified that vehicles seized and condemned will not be released under this arrangement and shall be forfeited to the Federal Government in accordance with extant regulations. 

It explained that all vehicle owners, Importers/Agents seeking to regularize import duties on their vehicles are required to apply to the Zonal Coordinators (Zones A, B, C, D) and CAC FCT Command. 

“They must submit the necessary available documents and process Vreg in line with the Federal Ministry of Finance directives for the registration of imported motor vehicles,” the statement added.

It further explained that valuation and assessment of the vehicles will be carried out using the VIN valuation method, adding that Import Duty and a 25% penalty shall be paid in tandem with the import guidelines, procedures, and documentation requirements for used vehicles under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria (2013) and the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. 

“Also, duty payments must be made using the Procedure Code specifically created for this exercise.

‘This initiative reflects our unwavering commitment to facilitating compliance. We encourage all stakeholders to capitalize on this opportunity within the stipulated timeframe,” the statement concluded.

In another development, the Comptroller-General of Customs  (CGC), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, marked Friday, 1 March 2024, as a pivotal moment for his administration, heralding an era of digital transformation within the Service.

Addressing attendees at the 2-day NCS 2024 ICT—Modernization Management Retreat in Abuja, CGC Bashir Adewale reiterated his commitment to leveraging technology to streamline customs operations. 

He emphasized the importance of engaging stakeholders to ensure the seamless execution of this ambitious project.

“In 2024, we cannot afford to remain entrenched in outdated practices. Stakeholders are demanding a Customs Service that embraces technology to enhance efficiency and transparency.” CGC Adeniyi remarked. 

Encouraging his Management Team, particularly in ICT, to champion the digitalization efforts, he urged them to harness internal resources to expedite the implementation of the electronic cargo tracking system.

*The CGC, Adewale Adeniyi

He, however, emphasized that “It is imperative that we modernize every facet of the Customs Enforcement Ecosystem. We must also integrate technology to fortify our operations.”

Welcoming the CGC to the retreat, the Chairman of Trade Modernization Project Limited, Alhaji Saleh Ahmadu, lauded the CGC’s resolve, highlighting the pivotal role of trade in national development. He underscored that the modernization initiative would revolutionize the NCS’s operations, fostering a conducive environment for trade across Nigeria and the African continent.

Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of ICT/Modernisation, ACG Kikelomo Adeola, commended the CGC’s unwavering commitment to the project. She highlighted its significance in reshaping, digitizing, and modernizing the Service’s activities.

“Welcome to this landmark retreat, where we embark on a journey to recalibrate and modernize the Service, aligning it with international standards.” ACG Adeola stated.

The NCS 2024 ICT-Modernization Management Retreat sets the stage for a transformative era in the Nigeria Customs Service, signaling its readiness to embrace technological advancements in pursuit of operational excellence.

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Soyombo’s Alleged ‘Wale’, Far From Being The CGC



…As Investigation shows serious ethical lapses, amidst corruption fight-back!

The Online Maritime Media Association of Nigeria OMMAN can authoritatively report that the name ‘Wale’ voraciously mentioned in a video alluded to by an alleged Southwest Smuggler, IBD Deinde was neither that of Wale Adeniyi, the CGC, or any Customs officer, but one of the errand boys of the embattled businessman.

It would be recalled that a video recently sneaked into the industry, where an alleged Southwest smuggler, Deinde threatened to rain down fire and brimstones, after his alleged goods were impounded by Customs Officers, in the Ilaro area of Ogun State. 

The CGC, Adewale Adeniyi has zero tolerance for corruption and had severally warned that he would not spare any Customs officers found culpable in the corruption web.

An insider at Ilaro, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, with OMMAN correspondents while clarifying at the weekend, said his boss actually had no direct access to the Comptroller General of Customs, Adeniyi, hence, couldn’t have meant the CGC.

ALSO READ:  MMIA $8m Seizure: Doing it right, no longer an Option- Comptroller Adeniyi

He however affirmed that his boss actually called the Controller, Federal Operations Unit FOU, Ikeja, where he met a brick wall.

“My Boss was angry and visibly agitated. He was saying, ‘Pele, call Wale (to get my phone) to call Ejibunu. But in a fit of anger (or slip of tongue), said Pele, call Wale. Ejibunu call Wale…!”

“Of course, Ejibunu was not there in front of him, so how could he have said Ejibunu, call Wale!”, he said, stressing the need not to further escalate the issue and get his boss into more trouble.

*Comptroller Ejibunu

“You guys are funny. You came to Ilaro to follow up a story promoted by a blogger, who didn’t even run it on his own site!”, he further asked, adding that the alleged promoter of the story, Fisayo Soyombo, though not a journalist, had already gotten his boss into trouble; in addition to getting some highly placed members of the community, sleepless nights. 

Two OMMAN Correspondents who were in Ilaro at the weekend noted that though the brouhaha occured in January, several weeks after, and contrary to the hot expletives, the seized contraband goods which ignited the controversial sparks in the video, are still secured in Ikeja, in full custody of the Federal Operations Unit, Lagos.

An industry watcher, Bolutife Egbewole told OMMAN, that he had seen the viral video; and going by the observed crazy display, he knew the goods were gone.

“You remember the story of the kite, the duck and the hen? If he had the capacity to free his goods from the Customs Service, he definitely wouldn’t be shouting crazily…

“If he had that kind of influence that he alluded to, then, he would simply keep quiet and honourably phoned his Contacts at the top. He lacks tact!”, Egbewole noted further, saying the only thing he couldn’t understand was why armed Customs operatives who should be protecting their colleague who was being publicly harassed, were pleading with the fire-splitting businessman.

“Do highly trained and equipped officers who owe allegiance to the federal government need to betray such palpable fears…?” he asked, wondering why he was not instantly arrested and detained, for disrupting the officers from performing their legitimate duty..

ALSO READ:  MMIA $8M SEIZURE: We are anchoring our mind on thorough investigation- Comptroller Adeniyi

At Ikeja, OMMAN correspondents spoke with four senior Customs officers, who echoed same sentiments, before painfully acknowledging the possibility that the service may have its fair share of bad eggs, just like every other government parastatal like the Police and Immigration did.

 “We acknowledge the fact that we too may have a few bad eggs. But I can assure you that the Abuja High Command is already looking in that direction and currently doing something about it”, one of the officers indicated.

But the four sources faulted the account linking Ejibunu with any possible movement of drugs and weapons to the North (in line with allegations) stressing that Ejibinu’s jurisdiction does not even extend to the North. They separately and independently pointed out that it was nothing beyond organized corruption, fighting back!

“His jurisdiction is just Southwest. Anyone attempting to link Ejibunu with so much influence must have forgotten that the cross-border security agencies, or, the police of varying states; NDLEA operatives, and sometimes the military have road networks of monitoring personnel”, the officer further said.

“You should talk to the CAC (Ejibunu) when he comes in. But I can assure you that he has no such influence; to settle even just the Customs on the highway from Lagos to Maiduguri, not to talk of, all the other varying arms of the government security agencies mandated to be on the highways.

When we finally got through to the FOU Controller, by phone since he couldn’t be reached by touch, he affirmed that Demade actually phoned him.

“I am not saying that people should not write whatever they like, but the ethics of journalism demands the writer must ensure a balanced reportage, by hearing from the other side too. Nobody like that came to my office.

“As to your question, my response is that my officials intercepted some contraband goods and impounded them. The seizure was still within the area. So, he (the alleged smuggler) went to Rotimi (a Customs officer) to plead with him that the seized items belonged to his junior ones; and should be released. Rotimi told him that he already informed the Controller and the Controller had instructed that the seizure be brought to the FOU warehouse. It was at that point that he decided to call Ejibinu.

“He did place a call to me; he actually did place a call. And when he placed the call; he now told me, ‘Controller please help me, the goods belong to my junior ones, and I told him, ‘I have made up my mind; i am seizing it; and that it should be brought to Ikeja.

“He pleaded that I shouldn’t do that; and at that point, I truncated the call.

“But I later called him to warn him, that he would be held fully accountable if there should be any organised reprisal attack against my officers.

“It was after he met the brick wall from me that he descended on my officers, as witnessed in the video.

“For an investigative reporter, I should expect that he asked what generated the commotion as witnessed in the video.

“He was probably not even there, he only lifted a portion of the squabble and began to write.

“As a public servant, my phone numbers are accessible to everybody. As a public servant, we are supposed to serve the people. Can any Nigerian call me, and I would decline his call?

“Now, that seizure had since been brought into the Government warehouse; as it has been seized. 

“This thing happened in January and remember, this same person (Deinde) a few years ago, (during Col. Hamid Ali’s regime) was arrested and detained in Abuja, but was eventually released”, the FOU Controller also stated.

He debunked the allusion that the ‘Wale’ mentioned was the CGC, stressing the fact that Deinde’s statement was “call wale… Bring my phone, bring my phone”, but ironically, the blogger allegedly misrepresented it to be the CGC.

“I am the sitting Controller, He had spoken to me. He had no need calling the CGC. There would be no point in calling the CGC. It was around the time the International Customs Day was held. The CGC would have been extremely busy and couldn’t even have been reached” he explained, stressing that he had a very brief discussion with Deinde.


Interestingly, a source at Ilaro alleged that the “Investigative Journalist” Soyombo had once, in the course of his in-depth investigation procured, a few months back, about a hundred bags of rice and starked it in a warehouse; only for Customs Operatives to storm the warehouse and carted them away!

If the account was true, that obviously could pitch the investigative journalist against the Customs. (He is presently not reachable by phone).

Of course, that would truly be a paradox if a CNN or BCC reporter would procure a hundred bags of rice and stash it in a warehouse, to look for truck drivers, just to prove that rice smuggling was real!

Even at N40,000, a hundred bags of rice would gulp over N4,000,000, excluding the cost of transportation or other logistics. Had he succeeded, would he have been selling the rice; or taking it to the Customs Harvey Road Zonal office to address a press conference?

As we tidy up our report, one major riddle remained unsolved; did Soyombo leave so many ends open, because he wasn’t a journalist, but a blogger? Were the untidy open-ended reports deliberately crafted to meet the demands of a particular class of readers rather than an altruistic contribution, to sincere expansion of the frontiers of justice? Better put, who could be the major sponsors or beneficiaries?

And finally: Why didn’t Fisayo Soyombo reach out at any point to either the FOU Controller or the Command’s Public Relations Officer, in tandem with the Journalistic ethics: audi alteram partem – hear the other side, except you harbour ulterior motives! 

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Yaya Dillo: Implication of Assassination for Chad and its ruling elite!



Days after the killing of Chad opposition politician Yaya Dillo, in disputed circumstances, many analysts in the conflict-racked Central African nation have expressed concerns about how his allies, powerful relatives, and rivals will react.

The Chadian government has said that Dillo was killed in an exchange of gunfire with security forces on Feb. 28. It said members of his Socialist Party Without Borders had earlier attacked the internal security agency where several people were killed.

Following this, heavy gunfire was heard in Chad’s capital N’Djamena near the headquarters of Dillo’s Socialist Party Without Borders.

The violence comes amid tensions ahead of a presidential election set for May and June that could return the Central African state to constitutional rule three years after military authorities seized power.

*Yaya Dillo

Accounts of the incident given by the government and the party have differed.

A government statement said the agency was attacked by representatives of the opposition party, led by its leader Yaya Dillo, resulting in several deaths.

Detailing a separate incident, the government said a member of the party, Ahmed Torabi, had carried out an assassination attempt against the president of the Supreme Court, Samir Adam Annour. Torabi was arrested, it said.

The opposition party’s general secretary told reporters that the deaths near the security agency occurred when soldiers opened fire at a group of party members.

But the FACT opposition rebel group and the CNRD opposition party have called it an assassination and analysts say the circumstances are unclear.

The capital N’Djamena was quiet two days after the death, though residents said security forces were deployed in key locations and soldiers searched for weapons at checkpoints overnight. Access to the internet has been cut.

The May and June votes were meant to draw a line under three years of military rule by transitional President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who seized power after his long-ruling father was killed in clashes with rebels in April 2021.

Deby junior, who is standing in the vote, has since faced street protests against delays in the elections and has had to bring some members of the opposition into his government, under moves to ease tensions brokered by regional leaders.

The United Nations and regional leaders have called for calm and urged Chadians to focus on the vote.

The violence this week has further exposed the complex ethnic and family ties that make up Chadian elite politics.

Deby senior had concentrated military and political power around his Zaghawa ethnic group.

His son has struggled to maintain that unity, and divisions have emerged, with some family members openly opposing him.

Dillo, the opposition leader who was killed, is from the same clan – believed to be a cousin or nephew of Deby junior – and his death has triggered anger within the family.

Exacerbating these concerns, the transitional president’s uncle, Gen. Saleh Deby Itno, last week defected to Dillo’s party and was reportedly subsequently detained.

Roland Marchal, a Chad expert at the Centre for International Studies (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris, said the fact that Saleh joined Dillo’s party was a signal that some in the extended family were extremely unhappy.

“The killing of Dillo is a sign of weakness. Dillo is not very popular in Chad so why take such extreme measures against him?” Marchal said.

Security sources say Deby Junior has sought to stamp his authority on the security forces, including by creating new units loyal to him.

As Islamist militancy spread across much of West Africa during the last decade, Chad has established itself as a key partner for Western and regional militaries.

Former colonial power France still has 1,000 troops and warplanes based there, even as it has been forced to withdraw from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso due to rising anti-French sentiment in the region.

The United States has had drones based in Chad. N’Djamena also hosts the headquarters of the regional counter-terrorism task force.

Positioned between Libya and Sudan, Chad’s remote borderlands are often used by smugglers and armed groups operating in regional conflicts.

Most recently, United Nations experts said that Chad has been used as a route to supply crucial weapons from the United Arab Emirates to the RSF, the militia that has been fighting the Sudanese army since April 2023.

However, the UAE has denied this. Chad hosts nearly 700,000 Sudanese refugees from this conflict.

With the elections in Chad just around the corner and the killing of Dillo coming at this time, analysts say the African continent may be on the verge of witnessing the unveiling of yet another theatre of unrest. 

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