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Workers set for strike in 18 states over unpaid salaries

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…As Oyinlola’s lawyer loses practising licence over election case

There are strong indications that workers in 18 states may start an indefinite strike on Monday over unpaid salaries. The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday in Abuja, said that the congress had sent its task force team to various geo-political zones of the country.

According to him, the strike has started in Plateau State, adding that a similar exercise will begin in Cross River State and others on Monday. The National Administrative Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress had, on March 19, 2015, set up a task force to pursue payment of salary arrears owed workers by some state governments.

The report of the task force, which was exclusively obtained by our correspondent, showed that 19 states are owing salaries and pensions. Ozo-Eson told our correspondent that the NLC had sent its task forces to the affected states and directed those who were being owed to begin strike.

He said, “The various Task Forces are working. Plateau is on strike, Cross Rivers is going on Monday; the various task forces are working.

“A team is leaving for Benue to commence action; they are now free to commence action and we are supporting them.”

The report of the Task Force of the NLC revealed that while some of the states had paid salaries of workers up to date, they were owing arrears of pensions running into months.

The states owing salaries or pensions are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, and Kogi. Others are Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara states. However, a look at the report reveals that Adamawa, Anambra, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Edo, the FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto and Taraba are not indebted to their workers.

The report stated that Abia State had not paid salaries of workers of the State Teaching Hospital for nine months. The state is also said to be owing workers of the Hospital Management Board eight months’ salary; Abia State Universal Basic Education Board, six months; Abia State Polytechnic, five months; local government workers, four months; and teachers, three months’ salary arrears. It was stated that while Enugu State had paid salaries of civil servants up to date, parastatals were owed 12 months’ salaries and pension and gratuity remain unpaid since 2010.

Others states owing are Osun State with six months’ salary and pension arrears; Plateau with six months salaries and seven months pension; Benue with five months salaries and four months pension arrears; Kogi with four months of pension and salary arrears; and Oyo which owes three months salaries and between five and 11 months of pension arrears. Also among the states which are likely to owe salaries and pension of workers into the incoming administration on May 29 are Ekiti with three months of unpaid salaries.

Jigawa is owing judiciary workers a month salary arrears in 2015. Ondo owes one month salary and pension, while Ogun is owing one month salary and 52 months of unremitted pension deductions to the Pension Fund Administration. Although Zamfara State has paid workers’ salaries up to date, the salaries of workers who were recruited in 2014 have not been paid.

The NLC Task Force also stated that Rivers State owes one month of workers’ salaries and three months of pension while Kano has yet to pay newly employed teachers for three months. However, the Task Force report was silent on the status of Yobe and Ebonyi on the ground that there was no information on them.

Meanwhile, the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee has expelled a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Kunle Kalejaye, from further practising as a lawyer.

 

The LPDC disbarred Kalejaye after finding him guilty of professional misconduct. A five-man panel of the LPDC, led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, conducted the investigation.

 

The LPDC found Kalejaye guilty of misconduct while representing the Peoples Democratic Party and its then candidate, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, at the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, where Oyinlola’s victory in the 2007 poll was being challenged by the then candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.

Kalejaye was said to have engaged in a “confidential, private and confidential telephone conversation” with the Chairman of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Thomas Naron, without the knowledge of the other party.

He allegedly engaged in the unprofessional act between March and June 2008 and the Justice Naron with whom he committed the misconduct had since February 20, 2013 been compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council.

The Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ekiti Division, Justice Paul Galinje, who read the directive (judgment of the LPDC), held that the prosecution, the Nigerian Bar Association, proved its three count complaints against Kalejaye.

The NBA was represented by Jibrin Okutepa (SAN).

He held that Kalejaiye violated the provisions of sections 1, 15, 30, 31, 34 and 55 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (2007).

The panel directed the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to delete his name from the roll (list) of legal practitioners in the country.

The committee also directed that its decision should be served on the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Chief Judges of all the states of the federation, the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, the Inspector General of Police and all the states’ Commissioners of Police.

It also directed that the decision be published in the media.

Kalejaiye’s lawyer, Niyi Owolade, a former Attorney General of Osun State, had objected to the LPDC’s decision.

He said his client was about filing his appeal at the Supreme Court.

Under the Legal Practitioners Act, Kalejaiye has up to 28 days to appeal the decision, failing which it will become effective.

Kalejaiye represented the PDP and Oyinlola at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which heard the petition by the ACN and its candidate in the 2007 governorship election, Aregbesola.

The LPDC rejected Kalejaiye’s defence to the effect that his telephone number was cloned.

The committee held that while Kalejaye was able to show, by expert evidence, that spoofing as a general phenomenon was possible, he failed to show that spoofing was possible on the MTN network which owned the lines with which Kalejaiye and Naron communicated.

He was said to have only demonstrated such possibility with Etisalat and Glo networks.

The committee also faulted Kalejaiye’s documentary evidence, mostly newspaper publications (including advertorial sponsored by Kalejaiye), faulting the authenticity of the call log from MTN.

The committee said it would have been more helpful had Kalejaiye applied and got his call log from MTN to prove that the one tendered by the prosecution was not the actual one.

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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