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Foreign Ship Convicted For Contravening Cabotage Act

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In what has been described as a victory for the cabotage act, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has found a foreign vessel, MT Lovell sea, guilty of contravening provisions of the coastal and Inland shippering act otherwise known as cabotage Act 2003.

  While delivering judgement in a snit field by the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, said that the 30,000 metric tons tanker vessel and its owners violated the cabotage Act and ordered the defendants to pay N10 million as damages to ISAN.

  It will be recalled that ISAN arrested MT Lovell sea in August 2009 for breaching the cabotage act and dragged the vessel, its captain and owners before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

  The plaintiffs, ISAN and an indigenous shopping company, Pokat Nigeria Limited, accused MT Lovella Sea, a 30,000 metric tone tanker vessel,  its owners Lovell sea carriers incorporated and the ship master of lifting petroleum products illegally on Nigeria’s coastal waters.  

  Justice Okeke had ordered that the ship be detained at Ibafon jetty pending the determination of the cast. “This is a true test of the cabotage law and this is a landmark judgement. It is a victory for the Maritime administration, NIMASA, as well as the indigenous ship owners and of course all the apostles of the development of an effective indigenous tonnage”, the director general of ISAN, Ms Funmi Folorunsho, said while speaking on the ruling, describing it as a victory for cabotage act.

  The ISAN boss also disclosed that the association as instituted necessary measures to ensure that indigenous vessels are in class and are in good shape to perform all forms of contract within the nation’s coastal waters.

  MT Lovell Sea is one of the six foreign vessels arrested by ISAN between August and September last year for breaching the cabotage law. The association lost the cast against one of the vessel MT Makhambet, as the same court last year threw out the case brought by it and Pokat Nigeria Limited against MBX shipping limited, a foreign company based in St Vincent and the Grenades using its vessel MT Makhambet for trading in Nigerian waters.

  ISAN and Pokat Nigeria had accused MBX Shipping Limited of contravening the cabotage act 2003, which exclusively reserves the right of carriage of goods and persons within Nigerian coastal waters for only Nigerian flagged ships. Ruling on the Makhambet case, Okeke stated that given the evidence submitted to the court by the plaintiffs and defendant the ship did not breach the act since the product on board the ship was loaded in Contonou, Benin Republic undermining the fact that there is no refinery in Contonou to the best of his knowledge.

  Okeke who later picked holes in the cabotage act called on operations in the shipping sector to prevail on the national Assembly for an amendment of the act to enable the judiciary resolve future cases bothering on the act in the future.

  Dissatisfied with the ruling, ISAN asked its counsel, Mike Igbokwe (SAN) to file an appeal at the court of appeal.

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Edo Descendants Light Up PH

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Last Saturday in Port Harcourt was full of colour for Edo people resident in Port Harcourt.
For the second time in two years they gathered to showcase their heritage with lots of dances, singing ,eating and sharing moments together.
Last year January, they had gathered to welcome the new Oba of Benin
The event held at Randolph Hotel in Rumuobiakani witnessed a large turnout of Edo people within the city with children, young men and women adorned in Bini regalia.
President of the Edo Community in Rivers State,Chief Gregory Oriakhi said the event is geared at uniting Edo people all over the state considering the spread of Bini people across many states in the southern part of Nigeria.
Chief Oriakhi said, ” this is the first of its kind we are organising in Rivers State and we are encouraged to continue to hold the cultural day because we have Edo people in Port Harcourt, including the Ikwerre people”.
According to the President of Edo Community in Rivers State, Edo people are spread across 22 kingdoms in Rivers State and beyond, ” Benin descendants need to know ourselves and this is an event to know and bring ourselves together”.
One of the speakers at the event, Chief Ken Oku affirmed Oriakhi claim of many kingdoms in Rivers State having links with Edo lineage.
Chief Oku said, ‘ we are here in Rivers, but we are not visitors. The place you are seated falls under the influence of Benin. Iam from Ekpeye but we are sitting in our own home. It should not surprise you that you are at home and we are 16 kingdoms linked to Benin in Rivers State.
He stated that in Rivers State the Ikwerres, Ekpeye, Odual, Egbema, Ndoni, some parts of Etche and Andoni have ancestral links with Benin.
Explaining further, the Ekpeye chief submitted that as far back as the 18th century Benin had influence stretching to the coastal part of the country, especially the Niger Delta.
As the women and men danced and swinged to the Bini rhythm, the children lighted incense and clapped for their elders who are carried away by the entertainment of the day.
Most of the foods shared were purely local and many of them ate with bare hands from packaged white rice wrapped in leaves garnished with stews and fish.
Prince Oviawe Uwaifo spokesman for the community said the food were carefully selected to reflect the Bini heritage. “The local food is called Iyan vbe owo”. The dish includes boiled yam and plantain served with palm oil gravy and smoked fish.
Prince Uwaifo stressed that, “we want our children to learn and to sustain what makes us different. And that is why this cultural day has come to stay.”

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Kpofire In City Centre

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As the onslaught against illegal refineries, “Kpofire ” across Rivers State state intensifies Obio/Akpor Local Government Area seems to be uncovering more sites than others.
Even before the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike announced a price tag for each local government area that records the highest success in their domain during a meeting with the council chairmen in Government House on Wednesday, Obio/Akpor chairman, Barrister George Ariolu had been on the news for the past one week
Within the local government area about five ” kpofire” sites or artisanal refining dumps have been uncovered. Two at Iriebe two at Ogbogoro and another at Rumuosi.
The most shocking one was the one discovered in the heart of new Government Reserved Area(GRA) bordering Eligbam and Rumueme communities.
The premises which has since been sealed by the council authorities after it was discovered sits close to residential area and has been under guise for many months before reports reached the authorities.
A resident of the area who pleaded anonymity told The Tide ,” we only see trucks come in and leave daily and we thought that it was a construction site or a company warehouse.”
Recently however, Barrister Ariolu’s breakthrough had pitched him against officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSDC) at their dumpsite at Ogbogoro.
Officials of the security agency had resisted the chairman and his team when he came to confirm whether their dumpsite was used by illegal refinery operators as cover up.
The chairman had on reaching the dump site alerted newsmen of the alleged deals and cover ups the “Kpofire ” operators use the security operatives for their illegal business.
But the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State Command has debunked the claims of the council chairman.
In a statement it released after video of the chairman’s visit were displayed on social media, the agency said the site located at NSCDC Jetty, Ogbogoro community in Obio-Akpor local government area, was not a bunkery site.
Briefing newsmen at the NSCDC Jetty Ogbogoro, the State Commandant, Aliyu Bature, said that the place in question is their Marine exhibit yard where arrested suspected oil thieves and illegal petroleum products are paraded.
The Assistant Commandant of the corps, Michael Oguntuase, who spoke on behalf of the State Commandant, said the exhibits in the dump site were arrested by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to them, while some of the arrests were also made by the NSCDC Anti-Vandal Team pending forfeiture.
“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. The entire press team in the state can attest to the fact that this place is our exhibit Jetty.
The commandant general was here in December 2021, and he is aware that this place is our exhibits yard. Those saying this place is a bunkery site are not current, because if they were, they should have known before now that we bring pressmen to this yard to parade suspect and illegal products.”
Reacting also on the rumoured conspiracy plan by some hoodlums to destroy the NSCDC exhibit dump yard, the Commandant emphasized that such plans will be strongly resisted, in order to secure the exhibits.
“We want the public to be rest assured that these exhibits are secured, any form of conspiracy to damage these exhibits will be met with stiff resistance.
“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no go area for anybody, because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen. We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that.”
He, however, urged the public to report any NSCDC officer involved in the business of oil theft as the Corps will not hesitate to show such person the way out.
“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.
The NSCDC leadership does not in anyway condone acts of indiscipline.
“We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved we will not take it lightly. That is why those who were in charge of the anti vandal unit have been disbanded. And the committee set up to investigate them is ongoing.”

By: Stories by Kevin Nengia

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Rivers, A Global Investment Hub

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Nothing could be more elusive and desirous as the special skills and talent of a wand and a midas touch. Dr Freeman O’ Freeman is one the few possessive of this rare gift. He has a penchant for the reorganization of ailing industries, organizations and institutions. The foremost technocrat and consultant was recently spotted by the Port Harcourt Metro at a public function in the Garden city. When his attention was sought for an interview he willingly obliged an the session was a deep insight into his experience especially his years of consultancy services with the Rivers state Government in the  early 1990s. During these period he recalled that 14 parastalals and government agencies including the three state owned media Houses were under his consultancy services for full reorganisation process. “We made the State Electricity Board to be the highest revenue earner after the Ministry of finance, we also made the staffs of Water Board, Super Board, and Rivers Marine to earn their salary after the reorganization processes, some of the moribond companies can still be revived.”  He said Rivers state was deeply blessed with potentials to host the business world through flourishing business activities, nothing that most black Americans business moguls were looking for opportunities of investing their wealth and knowledge. Dr Freeman who is also and author and religious counsellor emphasized the need for proper restructuring of the Nigerian state to address the needs and imperatives of justice in the country. He canvassed for the creation of a state owned insurance company to secure the wealth and investments of  Rivers state. “ Rivers state is global investment hub, their is need to decongest Lagos by tapping into the enormous investment potentials in Rivers state, it’s quite unfortunate that investments of Rivers state government are easing out without full privileges to the state government, despite hosting two federal terminals economic activities in the state is still low. I want the Rivers state government to reap the benefit of insurance before Governor Wike leaves office, it will count for him as one his greatest legacies for Rivers people. Commenting on the prevalence of ethno religious crisis in the country, he pointed out the very custodians of religious faith were the propellers of the evolving Crisis. “it’s very unfortunate that people don’t practice what they preach, the much resources in the hands of the ministers should be redirected for the interest of the followers, the early missionaries gave education virtually free. Ministers should allow their members to have leveraging access to their schools, this will reduced the loads of poor parents and help in producing an informed and better society”. With a deep sense of concern, he urged the federal government to address the growing spate of insecurity in country, particularly the “ incautious activities of herders.

 

By: Taneh Beemene

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