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Women abducted, raped by Boko Haram face stigma for carrying terrorists’ babies



  • As ISIL kidnaps 300 factory workers in the Syria civil war

After three months of sexual abuse, Jummai Usman managed to escape the clutches of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. But when she returned to her village of Bama last year, her loved ones shunned her.

“I was treated as if I was also Boko Haram,” said Usman, 45, a mother of eight who now lives in a refugee camp here. “My relations, friends and neighbors were suspicious of me. I didn’t like the way people treated me back there, like they were suspecting I could lead the insurgents back to attack them. So I left.”

Usman’s plight is increasingly common in Nigeria, according to a recent report by UNICEF and International Alert, a London-based charity that works to prevent violent conflict around the world. More than 2,000 women and girls abducted by Boko Haram since 2012 face mistrust and persecution when they eventually return home, the report found.

In its best known abduction, Boko Haram seized more than 200 girls two years ago from a school in Chibok. Most are still missing.

“These findings show a pressing need to do more to re-integrate those returning from captivity by Boko Haram,” said Kimairis Toogood, International Alert’s adviser in Nigeria. “Many of these girls already face lasting trauma of sexual violence and being separated from their families, so we must ensure they get all the support they need when they finally return.”

The United Nations is appealing to the Nigerian government to help people like Usman reintegrate into society.

“Issues of recovery and rehabilitation are very important. The future of Nigeria is at risk,” warned Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the U.N.’s envoy on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Making Nigerians more welcoming of former captives won’t be easy. Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has brainwashed some victims to fight with the terror group or become suicide bombers, the report said. As a result, some Nigerians fear that abductees might have been sent home to commit violence.

According to UNICEF, women and girls staged 39 of Boko Haram’s 89 attacks last year. Some women whose attacks were foiled told authorities they had been abducted by the group. Female bombers have staged many attacks this year, too.

Alhaji Musa Ngarnnam, 51, a resident of Ngarnnam, a suburb of Maiduguri, said those who return from Boko Haram camps are considered suspect and not welcome in the community.

Victims of sexual abuse are often described as “Boko Haram wives” who are “annoba,” carriers of the Boko Haram ideology, Ngarnnam said. He feared the victims might radicalize others.

“We can’t trust those returning from Boko Haram camps because we fear they have been indoctrinated,” Ngarnnam said. “We can’t allow them back, because they may attack us when we least expect it.”

Others fear that children born as a result of sexual abuse by the terror group carry “bad blood” that might lead them to become Islamic extremists when they grow up.

“Popular cultural beliefs about ‘bad blood’ and witchcraft, as well as the extent of the violence experienced by people at the hands of (Boko Haram) form the basis of this fear,” the report said.

Babagana Goni, 30, who barely escaped Boko Haram’s onslaught when the militants took over the town of Bama in 2013, worry the terrorists have impregnated their victims with a new generation of terrorists.

“How can we accept them back? They are already carrying children of Boko Haram fathers,” Goni said. “We can’t allow children of Boko Haram back in our community because blood is thicker than water. … We don’t want them among us.”

For Nana Kachalla, 22, the alienation after her harrowing captivity by Boko Haram has further traumatized her. Abducted three years ago, she recently escaped with the help of the Nigerian military.

Since returning home, “I was treated like a leper,” she said. “I wasn’t even allowed to enter my home. They said I was Boko Haram, and they won’t allow me back.”

Kachalla, who also lives in the refugee camp here, has tried to convince her family and friends that she had no choice. She insists she hasn’t been infected by bad blood even though she was raped and forced into a marriage.

“I was picked by a leader of the Boko Haram … to be his wife,” Kachalla said. “Some of the women got killed because they refused to give in to their demands. He threatened to kill me if I didn’t do what he said.”

In the meantime, more than 300 staff at a cement factory near Damascus have been kidnapped after an attack earlier this week by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Syrian state TV said on Thursday.

Hundreds of employees at the Al Badia Cement company were taken by ISIL fighters from a factory 50km east of the Syrian capital, the report quoted the industry ministry as saying.

It added the workers’ employer had lost all contact with them.

There were conflicting reports earlier on Thursday about the number of people missing.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “dozens” of staff had disappeared, while a plant administrator put the figure at 250.

“There is information that the workers might have been kidnapped by Islamic State and taken to an unknown destination,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the Observatory’s head, told the DPA news agency.

A resident of Dumeir, 50km east of the Syrian capital, told the AFP news agency that contact with family members had been lost “since noon on Monday”.

The cement factory lies outside Dumeir, which has seen fierce battles between government forces and ISIL fighters inside the town.

A Syrian security source told AFP that ISIL also tried to seize a nearby airbase and power plant from the government, without succeeding.



WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…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



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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