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NIMASA promotes anti-piracy efforts in Gulf of Guinea

One of the attack boats under Nigeria's deep blue project

Eyewitness News

Of all the 20 African countries which border the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria is unarguably the only country at the forefront to restore security to the notoriously troubled region.
The country has consistently committed huge resources and engaged in strategic partnerships with foreign countries in a bid to decimate pirate attacks in the region.
The most ambitious of such commitment was the multi-million dollars deep blue project which was launched and deployed in June 2021 aimed at keeping the Nigerian territorial waters safe and by extension, to keep the dare-devil pirates at bay from the Gulf of Guinea.
In addition, the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the lead government agency in charge of maritime safety and security in the country, has also embarked on an international campaign to sell the efforts of the Federal government in the Gulf of Guinea.
One of such several efforts to sell to the international community the gradual declining activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea was by the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh at an international round table entitled “Seafarers and Maritime Capacity at the Core of Africa’s Shipping Future,” where he highlighted recent declines both in kidnappings and attacks on ships at anchor in the country.
This campaign was part of measures by the Nigerian authorities  to highlight the decline of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as they work to rehabilitate the reputation of the region and attract new investments.
The Nigerian government was promoting the overall decline in activity while saying that it was also working to expand the efforts and further involve forces ranging from the police to the navy to continue the progress.
“There has been a decline in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, as the region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020,” Jamoh said during his presentation.

“Crew kidnappings in the region have dropped with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021, compared to 31 crew members taken in five separate incidents during Q3 2020.”

However, stakeholders said these presentations highlighting the decline in kidnappings, came as details continued to filter out on the latest incident involving a containership in the region.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland provided some of the first official details following reports by the security services and a brief statement from the Danish Foreign Ministry.

The Polish Ministry confirmed that one of the six individuals taken was a Polish citizen and said it was working on the return of their seafarer.

The incident took place on December 13, but there was some confusion on the exact number of people involved as some crew members were thought to be hiding on the containership.

The containership, the Greek-owned Tonsberg, is a 5,551 TEU vessel operating under charter to CMA CGM and is registered in Liberia.
It is believed that six crew members were kidnapped and a seventh received a gunshot wound and was being treated aboard a Danish frigate.

Dryad reported that this latest incident brought the total to 10 incidents with 76 crew abducted this year.

Speaking at the conference, Nigeria officials cited the economic impact as well as environmental pollution from the piracy activity. They admitted that the attacks were taking place in anchorages and various parts of the country, but said they were meeting with the police to better coordinate efforts with the Navy.

“It impacted the seafarers and shipping economically such as loss of revenue due to illegal activities, high insurance premium, a threat to commerce, socially such as arm and drug smuggling, and kidnapping,” they said during the presentation but promised that they were committed to continuing the progress cited by Jamoh.

The NIMASA boss however disclosed that various interventions had been introduced to address the situation, including passage of new legislation and review of local laws.

In June 2021, Nigeria launched a coordinated programme known as Deep Blue which was outfitted with a broad range of equipment to combat piracy both at the bases as well as in the country’s territorial waters.

International forces are seeking to supplement the effort, but as the Danes highlighted in the recent incident, they were barred from following the pirates with the kidnapped crew when they entered territorial waters.

Concerned stakeholders however warned that the Nigerian government should not concede the initiatives in the fight against pirates in the Gulf of Guinea to the foreign powers as the case seems to be at the present.
They advised that the fight should be a joint efforts with the Nigeria Navy and other local forces to earn Nigeria the deserved respect in the international community.
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Lagos princess congratulates Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu

… tasks them on development of maritime economy
The eyewitness reporter
The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu have been tasked with paying attention to the maritime economy for its development for the overall benefit of Nigeria and her citizenry.
Giving the task with congratulatory messages, a Lagos princess, Princess Ronke Kosoko, noted that developing the maritime economy would instigate the economic development of the nation.
Princess Kosoko who is the CEO of Employment Clinic and Coordinator, Project One Million Jobs,
congratulated Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Sanwo-Olu on their well-deserved victories at the polls.
She was confident that the Nigerian maritime economy will gain immensely from the Tinubu administration even as she enjoined the President-elect to focus on the industry.
Kosoko noted that skilled maritime personnel is aging and there is a need to transfer their wealth of experience to the younger generation who needs to be prepared to take over from the retiring generation.
She disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Transportation had approved the request for Project One Million Jobs to interface with agencies under the ministry for a seamless flow of talks and synergy that will positively impact and lead to a new frontier in the industry.
Ronke Kosoko unveiled her pet project, Maritime Conversion Programme (MCP), which she explained was designed to introduce Nigerian graduates to the maritime sector and improve career prospects.

Kosoko said that the MCP, which has gotten the backing of the government, would give support and connect not less than 5000 Nigerian graduates with the right employers in the industry who can engage them in non-technical aspects of shipping.

She noted that women will be given an adequate percentage under MCP, stating that the MCP is not creating jobs but providing a fertile ground for the transfer of knowledge from old Nigerians in the industry to young ones.

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Ekweremadu, wife may go to jail as London court finds them guilty of organ tafficking

Ike Ekweremadu; his wife, Beatrice;
The Eyewitness reporter with agency report

A former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; his wife Beatrice; and their doctor, Obinna Obeta have been found guilty of organ trafficking in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.

Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Obeta, 51; were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.

They  allegedly criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found, according to UK Guardian.

Ekweremadu and his wife were charged in the United Kingdom after they allegedly lured a young man from Nigeria to harvest his organ for their ailing daughter, Sonia.
The lawmaker was last year arrested and had been in the custody of UK authorities after they received complaints from the young man about their alleged plans to harvest his organ.

The prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, told the court on Thursday the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”.

He said they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man.

The behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, Davies told the jury.

He said Ekweremadu, who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.

Davies added, “What he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, it was criminal.

“It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter. Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty.”

Ekweremadu, who denied the charge, told the court he was the victim of a scam.

Obeta, who also denied the charge, claimed the man was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically.

Beatrice denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy. Sonia did not give evidence.

The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence at a later date.

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EFCC arraigns bank manager, two others for N55m fraud in Makurdi

Owolola Adebola

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC,) on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, arraigned one Kichime Gomwalk, a  branch manager of First City Monument Bank, (FCMB,) Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited before Justice P. S. Gang of the Plateau State High Court Jos, on a five-count charge bordering on stealing, cheating and obtaining by false pretense to the tune of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) fraud.

Kichime Gomwalk, while serving as branch Manager, FCMB Plc, Murtala Mohammed Way Jos, in Plateau State is alleged to have forged COCIN GRATUITY CERTIFICATE OF PLEDGE/LETTER OF SET-OFF dated 30th DECEMBER, 2019, purportedly co-signed by Mrs. Monica Bitrus Tang and Rev (Dr.) Amos Musa Mohzo, Directors, which he used to secure an overdraft facility from FCMB Plc to the tune of N55, 000.000.00 (Fifty-Five Million Naira) with COCIN Gratuity account N0. 100GOMWALK379 domiciled with FCMB Plc

Count one of the charges reads, “That you, Kichime Gomwalk, Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and you Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited, sometime in December 2019 at Jos, in Plateau State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit an unlawful act to with without Lawful authority engaged in the acquisition of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) overdraft credit facility from FCMB Plc and thereby committed an offense of conspiracy contrary to section 59 (1) of the Plateau State Penal Code Law, (20017) and punishable under Section 59 (2) of the same Law”.

Count two reads, “That you, Kichime Gomwalk, Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and you Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited, sometime in December 2019 in Plateau State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court fraudulently used LETTER OF CONSENT to engage in the acquisition of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) overdraft credit facility from FCMB Plc knowing that at the time of acquisition of the said money, it was derived from the unlawful activity and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 (a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (Establishment Act) 2004, and Punishable under section 18 (2) of the same Act”.

The defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the charge was read to them.

 The prosecution counsel, Uwaise Yusuf urged the court to remand the defendants and fix a date for trial.

The judge adjourned the case till May 18, 2023, and ordered the remand of the defendants at the Jos Correctional Center pending the hearing of their bail applications.

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