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U.S. releases documents recovered in Osama bin Laden raid

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…As NLC continues to blame oil cabal for persisting fuel scarcity

The United States yesterday in Washington released a list of now declassified documents recovered during the 2011 raid on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the list of documents contained hundreds of letters to family members and associates as well as statements on anti-government demonstrations in Egypt. It said the documents include the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other current events and series of list of reading materials found in the compound.

It said these included the U.S. government-commissioned report on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, indictments against terrorist suspects, a book by Noam Chomsky and dozens of English-language books dealing with conspiracy theories. It said the documents also included 19 publications about France and notes on the German economy.

It said President Barack Obama has called for the intelligence community to review documents for release, as part of a bid to increase transparency within the intelligence community. The office said hundreds of more documents would also be reviewed for possible release.

“All documents whose publication will not hurt ongoing operations against al-Qaeda or their affiliates will be released,” it added.

Bin Laden was killed in the May 2011 raid by US. Navy Seals on the compound where he had been hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has blamed those it called oil cabal for the prolonged fuel scarcity in the country, saying they deliberately hold the nation to ransom for their selfish gains.

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke yesterday, during an interactive session for delegates for the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conference, slated for Geneva, Switzerland next month, said the oil cabal expect to extract maximum gains from the biting fuel scarcity.

According to Wabba, “the issue of fuel scarcity is a matter of concern not only to us Labour, but also to every Nigerian.” He said “at every opportunity where there will be a change of guard those cabal will always come together and make life unbearable for the larger society; it is deliberate.”

The NLC president wondered why the crisis lingers at a time the country is preparing for a change of government.

“Over the past four years, there was no case of prolonged issue of queues as a result of fuel scarcity,” he said, stressing that this was because the cabal had over the years held Nigerians to ransom.

He said, “We cannot get it right until and when the inherent corruption that has constituted it as obstacle to progress is removed; we will not get it easier.”

Wabba recalled, “There was an agreement we signed with President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010, which entails that the existing refineries must be allowed to work at full capacity, while modular refineries can be built in two years; that in four years time, we will be able to have the capacity to refine our products. Five years down the line, even clearing of the sites for refineries was yet to take place.”

On the epileptic power supply, NLC president said the government lacks excuses over the inconsistent power distribution to Nigerians.

“The excuse that the failure in the provision of constant power supply is caused by non-availability of gas, which has been said in last 40 years, is not tenable. There is gas flaring in the Niger Delta, why can’t we harness the opportunity? That excuse is worn out,” he said. 

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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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