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We’ll Follow Procedure, Agreement In Future Arms Deal —Nigeria, South Africa

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  • As Minister says  U.S. Envoy’s allegation on Sex scandal baseless

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni and his counterpart from South Africa, Dr Sam Gulube, on Thursday, revealed that acquisition of military platforms and equipment for the Nigerian Armed Forces from South Africa would, forthwith be governed by government-government agreement and procedure.

According to them, the relevant agencies in both countries would work on fine-tuning the procedures, with a view to making hardware acquisition faster and hitch-free.

While addressing newsmen after the end of a two-day meeting of the Nigeria-South Africa Defence Committee (DEFCOM), held in Abuja, between July 20 and 21, Ambassador Sheni said the discussions were based on considerations that were beneficial to both South Africa and Nigeria.

According to him, “we have agreed on certain agenda items including but not limited to issues of military training, platform acquisitions; vehicles mainly for our military establishment.” We have emphasised in our discussions that given our level of security threats the acquisition of military hardware and platforms would be fast tracked with our South African brothers.”

He explained that other areas of the planned new military pact with the South Africa included training and technology transfer in the areas of space technology and military medicine.

He said: “In that context, we have also agreed that a technical team consisting of our experts from the various services will within a very short time go to South Africa to ascertain our requirements and needs.

Also speaking, Dr Gulube assured Nigerians that his country would work with the Federal Government’s new military procurement policy, adding that the would also respect Nigeria’s new regulatory environment in the procurement of military acquisitions and capabilities.

In the meantime, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle has no evidence of alleged sexual misconduct against three House of Representatives members, Minister of Foreign Relations Geoffrey Onyeama said yesterday.

He said the U.S. government did not press charges  and would not because, according to him the ambassador told him the housekeeper, who claimed she was “grabbed” by one of the lawmakers, refused to testify.

Onyeama, who spoke before the joint committee of Ethics and Privileges yesterday, said the allegation was based on a weak foundation, “defamatory and could lead to legal consequences”.

Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue), who were part of 10 legislators invited by the U.S. government for the International Visitor Leadership Programme between April 7 and 13  in Cleveland, Ohio, were accused of sexual misconduct.

Enyeama said in his interaction with the former ambassador, “he did not present any corroborative evidence and did not give the impression that there was any.

“He did not make any allegations against the members, he was just saying allegations were made and he confirmed they were made.”

The minister said there were no testimonies. “The house keeper ( who claimed a member grabbed her in the hotel) refused to testify further.” Entwistle, he said was surprised the housekeeper refused to testify.

“I was surprised the main complainant failed to testify when approached by her government,” Enyeama added.

He said the allegation “does not constitute guilt,” but that Entwistle felt an obligation to bring it to the attention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. “He’s not saying they are true or not.”

But members of the committee wanted to know why visas of the members accused were cancelled, if they were not adjudged guilty.

“We don’t know the workings of the U.S. government The U.S. has discretion on its visa . It doesn’t have to give any reason why it must have taken any step,” the minister said.

He, however, gave an insight on what may have caused the visa cancellations and three years’ travel ban on the lawmakers, saying there was a meeting in the United States Embassy in Abuja prior to the letter by the former ambassador

“A group (of lawmakers) went to the U.S. Embassy and it was an acrimonious meeting. The deputy ambassador was spoken to in an aggressive manner and voices were raised and the group walked out. The incident would not have encouraged a sympathetic approach.”

But the affected lawmakers said at the meeting with the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms. Maria E. Brewer on June 8, 2016, in which she informed the members about the incident for the first time she was rude and walked out on members twice.

Answering questions from Ossai Nicholas Ossai, the committee chairman on why Entwistle would write a damaging letter to the Speaker when there was no proof, the minister said the letter was to brief the Speaker on the alleged misconduct  to ensure his people do not jeopardise the programme in future.

“I will see this more as to remind your members to be sure they don’t put themselves in such a situation as it could lead to Nigeria not participating in such a programme in future.”

Enyeama said the ambassador breached protocol by writing to the Speaker, “the normal channel would be to come through the ministry,” he said.

When asked by the committee if there was any sanction for such a behaviour, he said: “There is none, we just brought it to his notice.”

The committee was, however, shocked to learn that though the event from which the allegation emanated was a government-to-government  programme, the minister  said his ministry was not aware, and that Nigerian Embassy in America was unaware.

Tribune with 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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