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Court Declares Merchant Navy Illegal

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The Nigerian Merchant Navy Corps is an illegal organisation whose activities constitute a threat to national security, an Ikeja High Court has held.

In a judgment on Thursday, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo said that the Merchant Navy was not recognised by any law.

Taiwo delivered a judgment in a suit filed by the 96 members of the corps against the Inspector-General of Police and one Mrs Yemisi Kefas of the Office to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

The judge dismissed the suit which challenged alleged eviction of the corps from its office by the police and Kefas.

The judge awarded a cost of N20, 000 against the corps.

“This is an illegal organisation being headed by one Commodore Allen Edema, a trained welder and not a navy commodore as he is parading himself,” Taiwo held.

She said that there was ample evidence that the corps had had series of disputes in the past with the Nigerian Navy.

“It was the Nigerian Navy that invaded the premises of the applicants and forcefully evicted them and not Mrs Kefas or the police,’’ Taiwo held.

The judge said that the applicants would not be entitled to the property in dispute, since there was no evidence before the court to show that the corps was a legal entity.

She said that the property belonged to the Federal Government.

The judge further held that there was no evidence that the applicants were tortured or prevented from peacefully assembling as they claimed.

Taiwo said that there was discrepancy in the corps’s name.

She said that the corps sometimes referred to itself as the Nigerian Merchant Navy Corps and at other times, the Nigerian Merchant Navy Security and Safety Corps.

“The identity of the applicants has not been confirmed. I find that the application fails and it is hereby dismissed,’’ she held.

Our correspondent reports that the 96 members of the corps, led by Edema, had sought enforcement of their fundamental rights.

In an application dated August  5, 2011, their counsel, Mr Spencer Ohwofa, claimed the applicants were forcefully evicted from their office at No. 6, Force Road, Onikan, Lagos, by policemen acting on the instructions of Kefas.

The applicants had claimed that the property was given to the corps for operations by a former SGF, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.

Kefas counsel, Mr K.S. Omosivwe, had submitted that the organisation was illegal and not recognised by the Corporate Affairs Commission.

He said that the corps had no relationship with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency.

Meanwhile, the applicants said that they would appeal against the judgment, which, they claimed was erroneous.

“We are going on appeal soon, because most of the issues we raised in our application were not satisfactorily dealt with,” their counsel, Ohwofa, told newsmen.

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IMO Vows To Stop Piracy In GoG

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A global agency, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has vowed to stop the menace of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). 
The organisation noted that the continuous activities of piracy and armed robbery along the Gulf of Guinea were capable of crippling international shipping in the region. 
According to IMO, piracy and other criminal activities along GoG damage the world economy and trade.
The Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim, who stated this during the inaugural meeting of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction conference (GoG-MCF/SHADE, said, he was encouraged by the establishment of the forum.
“This situation has continued for several years and these illegal acts must be stopped. Now is the time to make real progress”, he said 
 Lim said IMO would continue to support training and other capacity-building activities for Gulf of Guinea states as well as assist cooperative regional efforts under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
The Yaounde Code of Conduct is an agreement signed by countries in the region that commit to working to repress piracy and armed robbery against shipping activities.
The secretary insisted that the security situation in the GoG remains at the top of the organisation.
He said that the GoG-MCF/SHADE was aimed at facilitating shared awareness and de-conflicting activities in the region by linking all relevant stakeholders to advanced and coordinated maritime security activities.
Lim acknowledged the positive strides in the area of inter-agency cooperation and response on a regional and international level, especially the anti-piracy legislation passed by Ghana, recent convictions of pirates in Togo, and Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project.
“At the request of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, IMO continues to work with the ICC Yaoundé, including supporting a series of regional expert level online meetings aiming to assess the implementation and sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and to provide recommendations to the three organisations”, he said.

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Seafarers Lament Effects Of Covid-19

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA)  says the impact of Coronavirus pandemic, also known as Covid-19, in the country is negatively affecting the welfare of seafarers in the sector.
The union noted that the pandemic had created huge unemployment and forced investors to abandon the maritime sector.
The newly elected treasurer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Rivers State, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, disclosed this during an interview with The Tide.
Comrade Jonah regretted that the pandemic had crippled maritime activities globally, saying most ship owners and management have abandoned shipping activities, thereby affecting the welfare of seafarers.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had created unemployment amongst crew members in the sector as ship owners refused to engage certified seafarers on board vessels.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many investors in the marine sector to abandon their business as most sea vessels were stranded on the sea for months without discharging their cargoes.
“The impact of the pandemic is hitting harder on the welfare of the seafarers and their families.
“Investors in the marine sectors are no longer coming into the country to invest due to the global pandemic”, he said.
Jonah whose maritime activities span through eight states including Lagos, Kogi, Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta, called for prayers to salvage the maritime sector.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Sanction Nations That Reject Nigerian Certificates, NIWA Urges NIMASA

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A former President of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Comrade Sunday Avoseh, has urged the Nigerian Maritime Administrations and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to reject the certificates of seafarers from nations that refuse to accept certified Nigerian seafarers.
He said that Nigerian Seafarers’ certificates of competency were issued by Nigerian indigenous seafarers’ training institutions.
Avoseh made the call while speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt recently. 
He said if the regulatory agency could improve on the standards of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, it would be able to compete with other global maritime institutions.
According to him, if the institution is worth its onion, the agency could stand on its feet that any nation that would not accept the local certification of Nigerian seafarers, such country would also lose privilege of parading its certificate in Nigeria.
Avoseh decried the high cost of traveling abroad to acquire certificates, saying there is no technical know-how other countries offer that Nigeria could not produce.
“Any country that will not accept the certificate of Nigeria through bilateral relationship with other nations, we should also not accept their certificates.
“NIMASA needs to do something urgent because foreign exchange is being wasted by seafarers going to obtain papers outside this country.
“There is nothing they are going to get outside the country that we cannot be able to do here, NIMASA need to give priority to this”, he said. 
He pleaded with the management of the regulatory agency to, as a matter of urgency, lower the cost of certificate and discharge books renewal, insisting that the present cost is too high.
He also called on NIMASA to expedite action in implementing the Cabotage Act as well as reduce the hospital bills for seafarers.
“Today, for a seafarer to be able to renew his certificate of competency and do endorsement of their discharge books, what they are charging is too high, even the discharge books.
“They need to lower their price so that it can be affordable for seafarers because for someone who has not gained employment and you are asking him to come and pay exorbitant fee to be able to renew their documentation, I don’t think that is right.
“They also need to look into the fees that are charged in the hospitals for medicals.
“These are the things NIMASA needs to do, including the implementation of Cabotage Law. It is annoying to still see foreign ratings on our waterways, NIMASA needs to do something”, he said.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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