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UN Tightens Sanctions against North Korea: All Cargo to Be Inspected

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  • As Diezani shuns Reps panel,  over $24bn contracts scrutiny

The United Nations Security Council today unanimously adopted the US-led resolution that imposes new sanctions and tightens some of its existing measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The strengthened measures come in response to the country’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities that “threaten international peace and security,” the UN Security Council said.

The new resolution requires UN member states to inspect all cargo to and from the DPRK, not just those suspected of containing prohibited items, as was previously the case. It also bans leasing or chartering of vessels or airplanes and providing crew services to the country, and registering vessels, while calling on states to de-register any DPRK owned or controlled vessels.

Additionally, it decides that states shall ban any flights and deny entry into their ports of any vessel suspected of carrying prohibited items.

The resolution also expands sanctions against the DPRK by imposing a ban on all exports including coal, iron, iron ore, gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore and rare earth metals, and banning the supply of all types of aviation fuel, including rocket fuel.

Regarding financial sanctions, the resolution broadens their scope by imposing an asset freeze on all funds and other economic resources owned or controlled by the DPRK government or by the Worker’s Party of Korea, if found to be associated with its nuclear or ballistic missile programme or any other prohibited activities.

An additional 13 individuals are designated in the resolution as subject to the travel ban and asset freeze, including several representatives of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation and the Tanchon Commercial Bank. It designates 12 new entities as subject to the asset freeze, including the Ministry of Atomic Energy and the Reconnaissance Energy Bureau, described as the DPRK’s premiere intelligence organization.

The text also tightens existing financial restrictions by banning the opening and operation of any offices of DPRK banks abroad, as well as the opening of new offices of foreign financial institutions in the DPRK under all circumstances, unless approved by the Sanctions Committee in advance.

Turning to the arms embargo, which has been in effect since 2006, the resolution broadens its scope to include small arms and light weapons, which had previously been excluded.

“Today’s unanimous action by the Security Council has sent a clear message that the DPRK must return to full compliance with its international obligations,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement.

“This firm response by the Security Council should put an end to the cycle of provocation and lead to the resumption of dialogue in accordance with the unified view of the international community,” he added.

In the meantime, the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Wednesday failed to appear before the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the crude oil swap contracts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The former minister neither appeared in person nor sent a representative to the hearing of the committee, which is chaired by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kwara State, Mr. Zakari Mohammed.

The committee had summoned Alison-Madueke and a former Managing Director of the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, Mr. Haruna Momoh, in connection with the lifting of crude oil worth $24bn in exchange for refined petroleum products.

Two crude oil trading firms, Duke Oil and Tranfigura reportedly lifted the crude oil between 2011 and 2014 without valid contracts.

The summons were issued after three former GMDs of the NNPC – Mr. Austin Oniwon, Mr. Andrew Yakubu and Mr. Joseph Dawha – had informed the committee that Alison-Madueke “approved” the contracts without signing any valid agreements with the firms.

On Wednesday, however, the former minister failed to show up at the committee’s sitting.

Momoh too did not come.

Instead, he sent his younger brother, Mr. Suleiman Momoh, to inform the committee that he was ill and would not be able to appear before the panel on Wednesday.

Mohammed was left bewildered when he called for appearances and realised that Alison-Madueke was absent.

He said the committee would take the “appropriate steps” to address the absence of the former minister, but he did not elaborate on the nature of the steps.

Mohammed stated, “Anybody who knows the former minister and Momoh should tell them that they are daring the parliament and we will take the appropriate measures against them.”

However, Momoh’s younger brother, Suleiman, rose to register an excuse that his elder brother was ill.

“He is ill and he will not be able to attend this session of the committee,” Suleiman added.

The committee rejected Suleiman’s excuse and directed him to tell Momoh that he must appear before the panel.

Meanwhile, the Federal Inland Revenue Service told the session that Transfigura defaulted in tax payments to the Federal Government to the tune of $642.5m.

The agency disclosed that in 2010, the tax value of the firm’s trading was $613.7m; in 2011, it was $2.7m; and $2.5m in 2012.

It added that the tax value in 2013 was $2.4m; and $2.2m in 2014.

The agency explained that after applying the relevant tax laws to the operations of the firm for the period covered, the total tax liability stood at $642.5m.

In the case of Duke Oil, the FIRS informed the panel that it calculated $4.7m as its total tax liability.

“The computation was based on the commissions Duke Oil charged on its services,” the agency said.

The committee also asked the Nigeria Customs Service to ignore a 2008 directive by the Ministry of Finance that the NCS should not inspect petroleum product cargo declared by importers.

The NCS had told the committee that the directive was given to forestall any possible delay in the offloading of products for distribution downstream.

Mohammed noted, “The Customs and Excise Act is more important than any letter from any ministry in 2008.

“We will invite the Permanent Secretary, who issued that directive, to appear before us and explain why it was necessary.”

“The NCS should ignore that letter forthwith.”

World Maritime News 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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