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Substandard Goods: SON Takes War to ‎Countries of Origin

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  • Rickey Tarfa lied about his age, EFCC alleges

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria [SON] has announced plans to checkmate countries known for making such products and bringing them into Nigeria as part of the renewed commitment to stamp out sub-standard products in the country,
The Acting Director General/Chief Executive, Dr. Paul Angya, said one of the ways to achieve the feat would be the strengthening and smoothening of SON’s Conformity Assessment Programme [SONCAP], a key pre requisite for importation of goods into the country.
At a meeting with Independent Accredited Firms [IAFs] last weekend, in Lagos, Angya maintained that Nigeria would no longer waste its scarce foreign exchange to bring in sub-standards goods which endanger lives, property and the nation’s economy.
He said the fortification of the SONCAP scheme would ensure that sub-standard goods do not find their way into the country anymore.

In a press statement sent to SHIPPING DAY from the organization, the Acting Director General, explained that ‎the SONCAP remained pivotal towards attaining SON’s mandate and determination to rid the nation of substandard products.

He said as a way of going forward; SON‎ would be looking at the overall operations of the SONCAP and also strengthening the programme by restructuring its entire engagement with imported products, merging one of its new models with the SONCAP programme

“We will also strengthen the SONCAP department to be able to deliver on its mandate of delivering safe and standard products to Nigerians. We understand our mandate to be very simple, to facilitate the provision of safe and valuable products to Nigerians and this mandate is by the elaboration of standards and also making sure that these standards are applied throughout Nigeria.”

“SONCAP is on the front burner and if we as a standards body wants to succeed in our ambition to rid the country completely of substandard goods and to manifest our policy of zero tolerance, then we must keep this programme very close to our hearts,” he stressed.
He stated that SONCAP scheme is very key to achieving the agency’s agenda, pointing out plans to use the initiative to key into the change mantra of the current administration.

“The scheme needs to be seen and operated transparently to impact the nation. The impact can only be felt by the reduction on the level of substandard products in the country.”

According to him, ‎products coming from overseas are the biggest challenge faced by the agency, adding that most of the imported goods do not meet the minimum requirements of the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS).

‎In his words, “Our challenge remains the products coming from overseas because for products made in Nigeria, the IAFs are always on top of the game to make sure that these goods meets the minimum requirement of the standards, but those that come in through our porous borders and predominantly from Asia are the goods giving us problems.‎”

Meanwhile, Angya equally disclosed that plans were underway to further bring down the influx of substandard products to the barest minimum, saying that eradication of substandard products in the country was key to supporting the federal government’s quest for economic diversification.

‎”Within Nigeria we have had no problem because we have a team of experts that go round the country and we can say in most industries in Nigeria, their products conform to Nigerian standards. The problem is not what is made in Nigeria but what comes from outside the country,” he reiterated.

Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Intertek International Limited, Mr. Victor Faleye, ‎said IAFs’ expectation was for the SONCAP scheme to continue effectively, assuring that IAFs would strive to improve on areas of shortcomings to achieve the best from the scheme.

“We will also ensure that the issue of substandard products if not eradicated, but will be reduced to the barest minimum.”

He said the government has done what it needed to do by providing a platform to see the quality of products coming into the country and also subjecting them to the right tests to ensure that the quality of these products conform with what are obtainable in the developed world.

To Faleye, the task of ensuring that the country was rid of substandard products was not only the responsibility of the IAFs, but also that of the importers and the exporters overseas.
“When buying any product, the NIS standards are there, it is the guidelines that you need to meet and also ensure that you ask the exporters to conform to the guidelines and as importers, ‎ when you ask for quality products, you are assisting us in carrying out our tasks. It is not about 80 per cent reduction, but about total eradication. We are not substandard people so we do not need substandard products. What is good for the developed economy is also good for Nigerians because we are spending our hard earned foreign exchange and you are also aware that the foreign exchange is scarce so we cannot afford‎ to spend our foreign exchange to import substandard products,” Faleye disposed.

Recently, SON’s services and certificates were automated into Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System [NICIS]. This development, according to agency sources, would facilitate trade and help drive the Operation e-Flush campaign of the agency successfully.
Among SON technical partners and IAFs that attended the meeting with the Acting DG, SON, are Cotecna, CCIC, SGS and Intertek

In the meanwhile,  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday accused Mr. Rickey Tarfa of falsifying his age, urging Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos not to allow a further and better affidavit filed by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria in support of his N2.5bn suit against the EFCC.

“He who comes to equity must come with clean hands,” lawyer for the EFCC, Mr. Wahab Shittu, said on Monday while moving a counter-affidavit to Tarfa’s application seeking to tender a better and further affidavit to support his case.

An EFCC operative, Moses Awolusi, claimed in a counter-affidavit, that though Tarfa gave his age as 43 in the statement he made to the EFCC on the day of his arrest, findings showed that Tarfa’s real age is 54.

“I know as a fact that the applicant, in his extrajudicial statement to the 1st respondent upon his arrest, falsely stated that his age was 43 years in the document marked Exhibit 1 to the counter-affidavit of the 1st respondent dated 18th February, 2016, whereas the true age of the applicant, as stated in the compendium published for all Senior Advocates of Nigeria referred to, is 54 years old,” Awolusi averred.

But Tarfa’s lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), urged Justice Idris to discountenance the EFCC’s claim, saying that anyone could misrepresent his age under the kind of treatment that the EFCC subjected Tarfa to on February 5.

“In such a situation, I would put my age at 25 because I will be u nder shock,” Ayorinde said.

Ayorinde argued that what the EFCC needed to concentrate on was how it would debunk Tarfa’s claim that an Access Bank account into which his law firm paid N225,000 into on January 7, 2014 belonged to one Mohammed Awal Yunusa and not Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa as the EFCC had claimed.

Ayorinde urged the judge to admit Mohammed Awal Yunusa’s further and better affidavit in support of Tarfa’s N2.5bn fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC, saying it was in the interest of justice to do so.

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Shittu, described Tarfa’s application as an abuse of court processes and a ploy to arrest the judgment of the court, which was earlier slated for delivery on Monday.

Shittu, who claimed that Tarfa had already admitted paying N225,000 to the judge and had also lied to the EFCC about his age, said the SAN did not deserve the discretionary favour of the court.

The anti-graft agency had earlier alleged that it traced the payment of N225,000 from Tarfa’s law firm into Justice Yunusa’s Access Bank account, claiming that it was a bribe.

In response to the allegation, Tarfa had, in a further affidavit deposed to by the head of his chambers, John Odubela, denied bribing the judge, stating that the N225,000 he paid into the judge’s bank account was donated by some friends of Justice Yunusa towards the funeral rites of the judge’s father-in-law, Alhaji Audi Damasa.

Odubela had said, “That the applicant and some friends of Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa made some donations for the said funeral rites and to commiserate with the judge since they could not physically go and commiserate with him in Maiduguri, where he was.

“That the contributed monies amounted to N225,000, which was given to the applicant with the responsibility to get same across to the bereaved judge.

“That the applicant consequently made arrangement to forward the sum of N225,000.”

But in the better and further affidavit, which Tarfa sought to tender, Mohammed Awal Yunusa claimed to be the owner of the Access Bank account into which Tarfa’s law firm paid N225,000 into on January 7, 2014, contrary to the EFCC’s claim that the account belonged to Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa.

Shipping Day with additional report Punch

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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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