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Sweden ‘to expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers’

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  • As Ex-presidential aide, Gulak declares self as PDP Chairman

The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister was quoted as saying.

Anders Ygeman said that charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants over several years.

“We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000,” Swedish media quoted him as saying.

Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe.

Of the approximately 58,800 cases processed last year, 55% were accepted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Greece’s government responded to allegations in a draft European Commission report that it had “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili accused the Commission of “blame games” and said it had failed to act on a programme agreed last year to relocate tens of thousands of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece.

Europe is struggling to deal with a crisis that has seen tens of thousands more migrants arrive on Greek beaches, undeterred by cold wintry conditions.

The UN says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with more than 170 people killed making the dangerous crossing.

Mr Ygeman was quoted as giving the figure of 80,000 by Swedish Public TV andDagens Industri business newspaper (in Swedish).

He later tweeted to say he had not taken a position on how many migrants had grounds for asylum, it being a matter for the authorities and the courts.

Sweden recently introduced temporary border checks in a bid to control the influx of people. Along with Germany, the Scandinavian country is is a prime destination for refugees and other migrants entering the EU illegally.

Sweden earlier this week became the latest of a number of European nations to see tensions over migrants heightened by violence. A 15-year-old asylum seeker was arrested in Molndal, near Gothenburg, after a 22-year-old asylum centre employee was stabbed to death.

Migration officials say 35,400 unaccompanied minors sought asylum in Sweden in 2015, five times the number in 2014.

In neighbouring Denmark, meanwhile, the government this week approved legislation to seize the valuables of refugees in the hope of limiting the influx of migrants.

Some have likened the Danish proposals to the confiscation of gold and other valuables from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

In the meantime, a former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, on Wednesday declared himself as the substantive chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Gulak made the declaration inside the National Working Committee Hall at the PDP’s national secretariat in Abuja.

He spoke in company with his loyalists, which included former Senior Special Assistant to Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, and a former Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Chief Ayakeme Whisky.

Among those who were also in the team were Abdullahi Udoma, Jonathan Azake, Moshood Salvador, Bernad Biko, Eddy Olafeso and Ibrahim Barma. Gulak said he decided to take over the leadership of the party following the court order of December 16, 2015, which asked the party to name a party member from the North-East to replace former chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.

Gulak told the cheering crowd, which included workers at the secretariat, that the NWC must work with him in order to move the party forward. He berated the acting national chairman Uche Secondus-led NWC for its refusal to obey the court ruling, which ordered that a new chairman be appointed from the North-East.

The ex-presidential adviser said the NWC also lost in its bid to suspend the judgment, pointing out that the court refused to grant its request for a stay of execution. He said, “We are here today in accordance with the court judgment of December 16, 2015 and the court ruling of today (Wednesday), striking out the motion for a stay of execution, filed by the defendants/applicants.

“The court order of December 16, 2015 was that within 14 days, my humble self or any other person from the North-East Zone be appointed to replace Mu’azu, who resigned his position as the National Chairman of our party on May 20, 2015.

“By the operation of the law and the court order, I now assume duty as the national chairman of our great party, especially as the court has today struck out the motion for a stay of execution.” Gulak added that based on his and his supporters’ commitment and loyalty to the party, they could not continue to leave it without a head.

The former Jonathan’s aide said the failure to assume duty as the national chairman would leave the party organs, especially the NWC, the National Executive Committee and National Caucus, improperly constituted. While saying the struggle wasn’t about himself, he said his assumption of office was aimed at preparing the ground for the NEC to meet and take appropriate decisions for the party.

“It should not be seen as a contention against anybody or group of persons. I crave the indulgence of the other NWC members to partner positively with me in our efforts to pick up the pieces and rebuild our party,” he added.

Gulak said he had set up an 11-man committee, headed by Mr. Abdullahi Ohioma from Kogi State, to look into the affairs of the party. Other members of the committee are Dr. Sylvanus Opusunji, Chuma Nnaji, Mohammed Kachalla, Jonathan Asake, Udo Ekpeyong and Moshood Salvador.

The rest are Ilya Yunana, Ahmed Gusau and Denis Alonge while the National Auditor, Mr. Abdulfatah Adeyanju, will serve as the secretary. He gave the committee 14 days within which to submit its report.

Ekpeyong has, however, disassociated himself from the committee, saying the members of the party from the North-East would settle their grievances with the party. It was gathered that most of the deputies of the NWC members had backed Gulak, especially on his decision to probe the finances of the party.

The Gulak team later visited the Legacy House, to inspect the facilities in the building. Members of the NWC were meeting at the Legacy House when the Gulak team visited. In its reaction, the NWC, which spoke through the National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, said the court didn’t pronounce Gulak as the substantive chairman of the party.

He described Gulak as a fifth columnist, who, he said, was being used by some people to destabilise the party. Kwon said, “It (court) said a person from the North-East be made to complete the tenure of the former chairman. “We have filed an appeal, which is pending at the Court of Appeal and until the appeal is heard, the acting chairman stays in office.”

The legal adviser stated that the party hadn’t received any notice that its application, seeking a stay of execution, had been dismissed. He said the party was already consulting on who to be made its chairman, stressing that the meetings of the National Caucus, BoT and the NEC, would be called soon to pick a substantive chairman for the party.

Asked why it was difficult for the party to obey its own constitution, he said the section of the constitution that mandated the party to act didn’t give a time lag. Section 47(6) of the party constitution says, “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the party, the executive committee at the appropriate level shall appoint another person from the area or the zone where the officer originates from, pending the conduct of the election to fill the vacancy.”

The party had fixed March 19 for its national convention, when its national officers are expected to be elected. Also speaking, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abdulahi Jalo, said anyone aspiring to lead the party must have the support of the party from the zone. He said Gulak was not supported by the party from the zone. –

BBC with additional report from 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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