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Poor utilisation of Africa’s waterways stunts trade growth in the continent- Expert

Eyewitness reporter
Mrs Dabney Shall-Holma, the Chairperson of Sealink Implementation Committee, has identified underutilisation of Africa’s vast inland waterways for its inability to deepen trading activities in the continent.

Shall-Holma, a former Director in the Nigerian Shippers’Council,  observed that deepening trade entails making use of every mode, linkage and transportation mode available to ensure goods were moved from one place to the other.

According to her, there are endless opportunities in the area of water transportation for goods that can be opened up to enhance trade in Africa.

She said that Sealink was looking at exploiting the rivers that could be used for shipping cargoes across Africa.

She said that the Nile river, which was about 6,650 nautical miles in length, flowed down to Ethiopia and sometimes beyond the Blue and White Nile.

“So, these are tributaries that are actually flowing into the Nile. If we open up that as we have already started talking to the Zambezi and talking to Tanzania.

“If we open up that and Egypt re-echoes the development, you know what will happen to the entire eastern flank of Africa.

“In West Africa, we have the Congo River that is just below us and the Niger River. Niger River is a very long river, it’s actually only shorter than the Nile River.

“So we are proud we are sitting on the Niger River and we must utilise that opportunity because it is an opportunity that has been with us.

“The British came and used it for well over 100 years. But we have just come and we are looking at the fishes, the tilapia and the croakers that are in the river.

“And we do not know that can open up a new window, a very fresh window for growth and development. Nothing grows a nation like connectivity and accessibility.”

She also said that a feasibility study was carried out on the coast of Namibia all the way to Senegal in the West and Central African sub-region.

Also, there was the possibility of linking some of the islands that were on the Atlantic Ocean to enhance trade along that region.

She added that it would be more profitable for any shipping link to take in all the cargo that it could take on the Atlantic Ocean.

She said this prompted the organisation to show interest in Cape Verde in the Northern Atlantic, Sao Tome and Principe and then Equatorial Guinea, in the Gulf of Guinea.

She said this was done to confirm the veracity of the claims of importers and exporters, that cargoes leaving West Africa were going somewhere else for trans-shipment.

According to the chairperson, this will amount to double or triple costing.

She, however, said that most of the countries along the West and Central African subregion were now very proud to claim that they have better ports and infrastructure.

Shall-Holma added that they had also improved their logistics and their value chains were at nearly 50 percent to 60 percent.

Sealink Project is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement established to promote the development of a regional maritime company that would remove the bottlenecks and non-tariff measures along the ECOWAS trade corridor.

It was conceived based on the need of importers, exporters and shippers to create a value chain that would sustain the economy of Nigeria and develop additional networks to trade with other African countries.

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P&ID fraud : Court convicts, winds up Marqott Nigeria Limited.

Owolola Adebola

Justice D.U Okorowo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has convicted and wound up Marqott Nigeria Limited,  one of the 30 companies associated with the  Process and Industrial Development Limited, P & ID,  for money laundering.

The company was convicted on Thursday,  June 16, 2022, after being found guilty of four-count charges bordering on money laundering preferred against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Count one of the charges read: “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of activities of Marqott Nigeria Limited contrary to Section 16(1) (f) read together with Section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011(as amended and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”

Count two read:  “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to develop programs to combat money laundering and other illegal acts, to wit: failure to designate at management level a compliance officer within any strata of Marqott Nigeria Limited, contrary to Section 16(1)(f) read together with Section 9(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act”.

At the point of the first arraignment on February 7, 2022,  the defendant pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, setting the stage for a full trial.

In the course of the trial, the EFCC presented many witnesses and tendered many documents as exhibits.

In his judgment,  Justice Okorowo found Marqott Nigeria Limited guilty of all the four-count charges and convicted it accordingly.   He also ordered that the company be wound up  and its entire assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Marqott was first arraigned on Monday,  February 7, 2022, for being an accomplice in the $9.6bn Gas Supply and Processing Agreement between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and  P&ID.

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N25.7bn fraud: Appeal Court affirms conviction of ex-Bank PHB MD, Atuche, others

Atuche and wife

Owolola  Adebola

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division,  on Thursday, June 23, 2022,  upheld the conviction of a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche, as well as the bank’s former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu.

Atuche and his co-convict, Anyanwu, had approached the appellate court to set aside their conviction by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos on June 16, 2021, over a N25.7 billion fraud.

The panel, comprising Justices Sadiq Umar, Adebukola Banjoko and Kayode Bada, while resolving all the issues in the appeal in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) except the sentencing, also clarified that Atuche’s jail term was 12 years concurrently, rather than 120 years,  handed down by the lower court, if calculated consecutively.

Also,  the panel reduced Anyanwu’s jail term from 10 years to eight years and affirmed the discharge and acquittal of Atuche’s wife, Elizabeth.

In an abridged ruling read by Justice Umar, the three-man panel upheld the EFCC’s arguments and unanimously dismissed the appeal.

It would be recalled that,  in 2021, Justice Okunnu, while sentencing Atuche and Anyanwu, had upheld the arguments of the prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.

About three years after their arraignment by the EFCC in 2011, they had approached the Court of Appeal, to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction.
 But in a judgment delivered in September 2016, the court ordered Justice Okunnu to hands-off the trial but did not quash the numbers of counts against the defendants.
 Consequently, the EFCC  approached the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment and order a trial in the matter.
In its judgment,  the apex court directed that the case be returned to Justice Okunnu for the continuation of trial.
While the trial lasted,   Pinheiro opposed Atuche’s contention that the funds in dispute were loaned and not stolen.
Delivering judgment, Justice Okunnu had held that “The first and third defendants did not debunk the evidence of the prosecution that the loans were used to purchase shares.
“They rather contended that the monies granted as a loan could be used for whatever purposes.” The trial court,  therefore, sentenced Atuche and Anyanwu, but acquitted Atuche’s wife.

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Jamoh raises hope on removal of war risk insurance  on Nigeria- bound cargo

 

— as Lloyd’s of London meets September with stakeholders
Eyewitness reporter
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has given assurance of early resolution of the vexed issue of war risk issuance slammed by the international shipping cartel on Nigeria- bound cargo.
The surcharge was imposed on Nigeria-bound cargo during the heady days of piracy on Nigerian waters.
But due to the efforts of NIMASA with the collaboration of other sister agencies, pirate incidents were brought down to a minimal level so much so that Nigeria has had zero piracy attacks since the beginning of 2022.
This has led the country to be removed from the red list of pirate nations in March 2022.
However, despite this feat, the international shipping cartel still maintains the war risk insurance on Nigeria- cargo.
This has made NIMASA embark on a campaign to make the shipping cartel drop the surcharge.
However, Dr. Jamoh, while speaking during the tour of NIMASA facilities in Lagos by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, gave an indication of early removal of the surcharge.
According to him,  the Lloyd’s of London, which are the coordinators of insurance surcharges on Nigeria- bound cargoes, will meet in September to deliberate on Nigeria’s request for review of the surcharge.
” Our hope is that by September this year, the issue of War Risk Insurance will be addressed when the Lloyd’s of London, coordinators of insurance surcharges on Nigerian bound cargoes meet to deliberate on our position paper which highlights the short, medium, and long term plans to sustain the achievements in our war against piracy in Nigeria” NIMASA DG declared.
Meanwhile, Senator Gbemisola Saraki has expressed satisfaction with the management of NIMASA while she was on a tour of the assets and equipment of the agency in Lagos on Wednesday.
 Among the assets inspected included the NIMASA Command, Control and Computer Centre (C4i), the NIMASA Modular Floating Dockyard, the NIMASA E-library and Vessels belonging to the Agency undergoing dry docking at the Naval Dockyard Victoria Island.

The Honorable Minister expressed delight at the equipment and assets of NIMASA, stating that it underscores the importance the Federal Government attaches to combating maritime crimes and ensuring zero tolerance for illegal activities on the nation’s territorial waters.

While commending the synergy and collaboration amongst agencies of Government in the maritime sector, the Honorable Minister expressed delight at the fact that Nigeria has witnessed piracy-free waters since 2022.

Accordingly, she said; “for over 28 years, we have been in the press for the wrong reasons, over the piracy issues at the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).

” We were there when Mr. President commissioned the DEEP BLUE PROJECT last year and within that short frame of time, we have broken the jinx, and for the last five months zero attacks, so I think that says it all for my assessment of NIMASA”.

Furthermore, Senator Saraki noted the need to sustain the momentum to ensure Nigeria remains attractive to investors, adding that the Ministry is delighted at the steps NIMASA is taking to address the issue of War Risk Insurance premium on Nigerian Bound Cargoes.

“The most important thing now is that we don’t rest on our oars. The Free Trade Agreement and how it affects Nigeria is our focus.

“We hope to create an enabling environment to be very attractive and highly competitive when compared to neighboring countries and collaboration amongst all maritime agencies of Government in terms of information gathering and sharing is key in achieving this”. she said.

However, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh disclosed that the focus of the agency is sustaining the achievements in recent times, adding that the plans are in three categories of short medium and long term.

“Our focus now is to sustain the tempo

 “We are very optimistic that the clamour for the removal of war risk insurance premium on Nigerian bound cargos will soon yield positive results.
” The international community desires sustainability of Nigeria’s war on piracy and maritime crimes. The good thing is that they are part and parcel of our processes and procedures.
“We have the Nigeria Join Industry Working Group where all stakeholders including the INTERTANKO, the largest owners of tankers in the world, the INTERCARGO, the largest owners of Cargos in the world and the major oil marketing companies meeting regularly discussing developments in the Nigerian Maritime industry.
” We have also strengthened our collaboration with the Nigerian Navy.
” The SHADE Gulf of Guinea is another platform where inter-regional organisations such as the ICC and the European Union foster collaboration to secure the Gulf of Guinea.

“Though Nigeria was removed from the red list of piracy nations on the 3rd of March this year, it is natural that the international community will desire sustainability.

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