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STOAN To Pay Shippers’ N30,000 As Court Adjourns To May 2016

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  • As BVN exposes 23,306 ‘ghost workers’ on Fed Govt payroll

The legal ‘tango’ between the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Seaport Terminals Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) suffered another setback yesterday, as the case could not be heard, following STOAN’s inability to meet statutory requirements.

The Appeal Court sitting in Lagos subsequently awarded a N30,000 cost, in favour of the Shippers’ Council, and adjourned the case to the 23rd of May, 2016.

Princess Vicky Haastrup, C.E.O ENL Consultium

Princess Vicky Haastrup, C.E.O ENL Consultium

The appellant, the terminal operators had appealed an earler judgement, to which the Council or respondend, through its counsels Barrister Emeka Akabogu and Chief Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara had in October, last year, filed in their notice of non contention.

The STOAN Counsels were thereafter, expected to go to the registry to ensure that their application was taken in and regularized, before yesterday.

Justice Uzoamaka Anyanwu of the Lagos Appeal Court in awarding the cost, said the Court was not satisfied with  Ayo Olorunfemi’s defense, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, (Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Shippers’ Association Lagos State respectively) had file in the notice of no contention, timely.

But the STOAN Counsel, Mr. Olorunfemi argued otherwise, noting that his team proactively filed their submission properly, but for another unit that failed to get the submission before the chamber, before the date of hearing.

“It is a 2015 Appeal; we have filed an application for extension of time to deal with our appellant’s brief as having been filed properly. That is allowed under the rules. However, the respondents since they didn’t want to oppose the application, they are required to file a notice of non contention but they didn’t file it in good time until around October.

“It is the duty of the registry once they have received the notice to inform the Judge and not the appellant in this case”; and indicating he was pleased with the date of adjournment.

In his reaction, Emeka Akabogu who indicated the preparedness of his team, noted that the adjournment was simply because the appellants did not fully comply with the Court’s requirements.

” The most important thing as far as the respondents are concerned is that the respondents and the Nigerian Shippers are very keen to ensure that this matter is attended to and that is why we are concerned, that is why we have asked the court and the court have agreed that this matter be dealt with expeditiously”.

Echoing same notion, Chief Nwagbara, who demanded for a punitive cost of N2m said it was like the appellant was deliberately stalling the process of adjudication.

” What happened was that the counsel for the appellant filed an application to regularize their processes in the court and that is to say, to deemed properly done what they did not do when they supposed to have done; and as respondents, we also filed a paper telling the court that we were not opposing that application and we expect that they would have done their house keeping by going to the registry to ensure that that application was taken in chambers before this day. Infact I went out of my way two weeks ago to call them to remind them that the enquiries I made at the registry showed that their application has not been granted and that they should take step to go and ensure that their application was taken.

“Unfortunately, they did not do anything in respect of that. Again, it is a deliberate slow down of the process of adjudication on this matter and again it is not in the interest of the parties, we believe that this is a contentious issue in the port operation in Nigeria and it need to be decided once and for all. A very important issue is at stake here, whether the shipping line agency charges is illegal or not, it is key to the issues of operation in the maritime industry in Nigeria today”, he posited further.

In the meantime, no fewer than 23,306 names are to be deleted from the Federal Government’s payroll.

A team probing multiple salary payments recommended 23,306 civil servants and some banks for thorough investigations.

The government has started deleting the indicted civil servants from its payroll, The Nation learnt yesterday.

It was also learnt that some of those affected have tendered their resignation letters to pre-empt dismissal from service and prosecution.

According to a source, of 312,306 civil servants, whose bank accounts have so far been checked through the Bank Verification Number (BVN) platform, 23,306 have issues with their accounts.

The source claimed that with the adoption of the BVN for salary payment, the Federal Ministry of Finance has so far checked the details of about 312,000 civil servants— a development said to have led to the discovery of many irregularities in salary payment.

“Out of the accounts of about 312,000 civil servants processed so far, the ministry was said to have uncovered irregularities in the account of about 23,306 of them, who were suspected to have been collecting double salary.

“These indicted individuals are in two categories. In the first group, we found out that the names of some civil servants, whose salaries are being processed, are different from the names on the accounts where their salaries are paid. What this means is either those in this category are drawing salary from two sources (which could be different agencies), or they are ghost workers,” the source said.

The source added that the probe also showed that salaries were being paid to some inactive accounts, thus raising the suspicion that government was merely making payment to ghost workers.

But it was gathered yesterday that the Federal Government has placed some banks under watch for their roles in the salary scam.

The probe panel was said to have discovered that some of the inactive accounts were domiciled in a particular branch of a bank.

It was learnt that over 300 accounts of some civil servants were opened on the same day and all of them have become dormant.

The Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media Matters, Mr. Festus Akanbi, said last night, “The public will be appropriately briefed when the full report is ready.”

The adoption of the BVN became inevitable due to the failure of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) to effectively deal with the issue of ghost workers in the federal civil service.

A source in the ministry explained that the strategy of using BVN rather than requiring the physical presence of each worker “significantly simplified and accelerated the progress of the project and at a lower cost than previously incurred”.

Additional report from Nation

 

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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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