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I am ready to stake my integrity over disbursement of CVFF—-Sambo

 

—Vows to resign if cabotage loans are  given out for political patronage

—-spells out tough eligibility criteria to access loan

 

The Eyewitness Reporter

The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo is trying hard to convince a large army of cynics among the maritime stakeholders who are apparently skeptical about the latest approval he secured from President Mohammad Buhari for the disbursement of the controversial Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds(CVFF).

Sambo broke the news of the approval in Lagos on Saturday, December, 10th, 2022 at the flag-off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme(NSDP).

Since what could have been the cheering news broke out, most of the stakeholders, especially the indigenous operators, who are the direct beneficiaries of the funds, scoffed at the approval, betraying a heavy dose of disbelief and skepticism apparently due to the long weary wait and delay for the disbursement of the funds for over 17 years.

Their cold attitude and skepticism were rooted in what they described as a vain but similar presidential approval which the immediate Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said he secured but never took off.

However, Sambo, who expressed undisguised passion and commitment towards the disbursement, said he was ready to stake his integrity and 35 years of civil service career to show the government’s genuineness and sincerity over the controversial disbursement of the loans.

”I don’t blame people for being skeptical or pessimistic. I can’t come in public and tell people lies.

”Hold me responsible if this fund is not disbursed. I am staking my integrity on approval granted by Mr President”, the Minister vowed.

He explained that the reason why the approval secured by his predecessor did not yield the desired result was due to what he called administrative challenges between the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Finance.

It would be recalled that Ameachi has then cried out that the disbursement of the funds was sabotaged by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Usman Zainab who he accused of laying landmines on the path of the disbursement.

”Under my predecessor who also secured presidential approval to disburse the funds but could not execute the approval was because of some administrative challenges which the Ministry of Transportation had with the Ministry of Finance.

”We have identified those gaps and ensured that in our prayers to Mr President, we addressed those gaps. So our prayers were all-encompassing” the Minister declared.

He revealed that five banks, Union bank, Polaris, Zenith, UBA and Jaiz banks were selected through a rigorous and transparent process as the primary lending institutions(PLIs) to drive the disbursement process.

He said that these banks were selected based on the criteria that were set out in the guidelines

Explaining the guidelines for the disbursement and eligibility of beneficiaries to access the loans, he said the process is anchored on two major planks: the coastal and shipping act which is the enabling law of 2003 otherwise known as the Cabotage Act and the second plank is the guidelines for the disbursement of the funds as approved by the National assembly.

”There are criteria surrounding the choice of the banks and these banks were recommended to Mr. President based on the guidelines which Mr President has approved”, the minister declared.

The minister also explained the steps to recover the loans as embedded in the guidelines for disbursement and eligibility.

”The guidelines are very clear. The applicants for the funds will make an equity contribution of 15 percent, NIMASA will contribute 35 percent while the PLIs, that is the disbursing banks will provide the balance of 50 percent.

”Other additional criteria for legibility will include but are not limited to such things as a contribution to the funds. Those who do not contribute to the funds as two percent of their contracts executed under the Cabotage as provided under the guidelines will not be eligible for the funds.

”Another condition to accessing the funds is the issue of ”off-taking”. If you do not want your loans to go bad, the easiest way to prevent this is to ensure that the applicant has off-takers for his vessels.

”He does this by showing you his contract, the banks carry out due diligence to verify that such a contract is true and genuine and irrevocable. That way, the banks will ensure that all the proceeds from such contracts go straight into the applicant’s loan account which will domicile with the PLIs. The banks call the process domiciliation of payment.

”So under a tripartite agreement, the domiciliation of payment will be guaranteed. So the proceeds from the off-taker on behalf of the beneficiary of the funds go straight into that loans account. That is the way we can guarantee that the loans will be paid back.

The minister said the applicants must have 50 per cent of the money they want to borrow.

”I, the permanent secretary and the incumbent NIMASA management are men and women of integrity and I don’t think any of us will want to be associated with bad loans.

”The other thing we are going to do is to make sure that we have an administrative structure in place. This will not take more than three days in such a way that loan applications are thoroughly and professionally scrutinised to prevent this money from being doled out as a largesse.

”Rather than be part of doling out the loans as largesse, I will reign my office. I cannot have spent 35 years of my life serving this country only to be messed up in one year.

”At my age, I think I want to go back to my creator with clean hands and a conscience”, the minister declared.

On his part, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh disclosed that the funds have naira component and dollar component.

According to him, the funds have acrued up to N16 billion in the naira component and $350million in dollar component.

The minister also disclosed that the presidential approval for the disbursement of the funds came to his office late Friday, December 9th, 2022 while attending a function in Lagos but chose to divulge the information at the flag off ceremony of the third phase of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme(NSDP) held on Saturday where the indeginious ship operators, who are the primary beneficiaries of the funds, would be in attendance and to show the nexus between the ceremony and the disbursement of the funds.

”On Monday,December 12th, 2022, the NIMASA DG will get formal communication from me conveying the approval of Mr President and I expect him to take immediate steps towards the disbursement process”, the Minister directed.

 

 

 

 

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Freight Monitor

ANLCA cracks

Emenike Nwekeoji , ANLCA President
–ASECO chair resigns, cites internal pressure, backbiting, distrust
— insurrection at MMIA chapter as coup against chairman foiled 
The Eyewitness Reporter
Six months after the highly factionalized elections which brought in the duo of Emenike Nwekeoji and Olusegun Oduntan as the National President and Vice President respectively of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in September 2023, the graveyard peace which heralded the pyrrhic victory seems to have ruptured.
The fragile peace, which was the fallout of the five years of bitter and intractable war that sent the oldest freight forwarding association to a state of inertia, now seems to have given way to distrust, bickering, animosity, suspicion and repressed anger among the top echelon of the association.
To underline the smouldering fresh crisis that has hit the association, Nze Aloy Emeka Igwe, the Chairman of the Association Elections Committee(ASECO )of ANLCA, has resigned his appointment.
In his letter of resignation dated 27th, February 2024 and addressed to the National President, Emenike Nwekeoji, Igwe, in a voice laden with regret and bitterness, cited extraneous influence, backbiting, under current and lack of trust” as the reasons why he called it quit.
“ASECO as presently constituted depicts a divided house due to the extraneous influence and pressure.
” The under current, the backbiting and lack of trust within and without ASECO have caused me to review my membership and chairmanship of the committee.
“I have deeply addressed my thoughts to this, consulted my family, friends and associates and decided that my time with ASECO is irreversibly over.
“There is no energy, no motivation left in me to continue to work under the prevailing regrettable circumstances” Igwe bemoaned.
A few days after the resignation of the highly traumatized ASECO chairman, a coup was played out at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapter of the association where one Chief Bola Ashiru Balogun, one of the defeated candidates of the chapter elections staged an unsuccessful coup to unseat the incumbent chairman, Bangbala Adewusi, Monday, March 4th,2024.
In a commando-like style, Chief Bola Balogun came into the Chairman’s office with officers of the Police Force from the Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2, Onikan.
According to an eyewitness account, on the strength of a petition of threat to Life against the Chairman, the Chairman, Chief Adewusi followed them to the Zonal Headquarters
“While the Chairman was away to Zone 2, Chief Bola Balogun allegedly came with hoodlums and area boys to forcefully break into the office of the Chairman and seize power forcefully on the strength of a May 2023 court judgement, which has been appealed and is currently being heard by the Appeal Court”
However, the attempt to unseat Chief Adewusi, who sources said was an unpopular chairman foisted  on the chapter by the cabal in ANLCA, was thwarted by members of the Task Force, led by the CSO, Mr. Maxwell Onyemachi, and other well-meaning members of the chapter loyal to the embattled chairman.
However, the last is yet to be head of the failed coup at the MMIA chapter as a group loyal to Chief Ashiru Balogun has promised to relaunch the attack on the Chairman, Chief Adewusi who they regarded as a puppet of the cabal in the association.
Stakeholders feared that the recent happening in the association may have signaled the slide of ANLCA back to another round of crisis which has ravaged the war-weary group for five years before its graveyard peace that is now shortlived.
The ANLCA President, Emenike Nwekeoji, through the Sectary of the Association, Olumide Fakanlu, “has graciously accepted the resignation letter of the highly embittered ASECO chairman.
In his acceptance letter dated March 1st, 2024 and signed by Fakanlu, the ANLCA President said the letter was received with mixed feelings but nonetheless, it was graciously accepted while wishing Emeka Igwe well in his future endeavours, thus signaling the resumption of hostilities in the acclaimed oldest freight forwarding Association in Nigeria’s maritime industry
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Headlines

Tantita Seizures: Court orders forfeiture of MT Kali to FG

The Eyewitness Reporter 
Private security outfit, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), has added another major win for the nation in collaboration with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in a landmark judgement, as the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the forfeiture of an illegal crude oil vessel, MT Kali and its content to the Federal Government.
Securing this judgement is the first scenario in recent times when oil thieves and their barons are being prosecuted and brought to book as 20 crew members, including community boys’ accomplices, were arrested in the operation.
The police in the Charge NO. FHC/ABJ/CR/18/2024 B/W: INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE V. MT KALI & 22 ORS, had arraigned the vessel and its 22 crew members before the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice J.O. Abdulmalik.
Justice Abdulmalik granted the motion for the interim forfeiture of MT Kali & her content to the Federal Government.
However, the arraignment of the suspects was stalled as they were not produced in court by the office of the Chief of Defence Staff.
All efforts by the prosecuting counsel to convince the court to issue a production warrant to be served on the military authorities for the production of the defendants on 18th March 2024 being the next adjournment date or at least the issue of the defendants’ summons to be served on the defendants through the military authorities proved abortive.
The court, however, sternly warned that the charge may not survive beyond the next adjournment date should the prosecution not secure the attendance of the defendants for their arraignment and plea.
The illegal oil bunkering ship was arrested by the operatives of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited in conjunction with the special security task force set up by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, on January 11th, 2024.
The ship was arrested while siphoning crude oil from the Pennington Oil field of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State.
The case is being prosecuted to a logical conclusion in the act of dexterity and patriotic zeal by the operatives of Tantita led by its Executive Director, Operations and Technical Services, Captain Warriedi Enisuoh and a team raised by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun.
Egbetokun had directed the Police Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering (IGP-STFPIB) under the command of Mr. Lot Lantoh Garba, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, to launch a discreet investigation into the arrest of the bunkering ship.
Investigations into the arrest of MT Kali were being intensified as operatives of Tantita arrested another illegal bunkering ship MT HARBOR SPIRIT, weeks after, on February 4th.
The Moldovian vessel was caught while stealing crude oil from Sengana oilfields in the coastal axis of Bayelsa State.
The investigation and prosecution of the two bunkering ships and their crew members were being diligently coordinated by Enisuoh and Head, Investigation, IGP-STPIB, Mr. Omar John Sini, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP).
It was gathered that MT Harbor Spirit and members of her crew have since been arraigned in court on Friday, March 1st, 2024.
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Customs

Customs gives importers of improperly imported vehicles soft landing

Wale Adeniyi, CGC
— announces 90-day window to pay import duties with 25 percent penalty
The Eyewitness Reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has bent backward to give a soft landing to importers of vehicles whose vehicles were detained by the customs over improper documentation and undervaluation.
Acting on the Ministry of Finance’s instructions, the Customs has given a 90- day window for the vehicles under that category to pay the required customs duty in addition to a 25 percent penalty and take delivery of their consignments.
According to the statement by the service, those whose vehicles were seized and condemned will not enjoy this grace as they have forfeited their consignments to the Federal Government.
“All vehicle owners, Importers/Agents seeking to regularize import duties on their vehicles are required to apply to the Zonal Coordinators (Zones A, B, C, D) and CAC FCT Command.
“They must submit the necessary available documents and process Vreg in line with the Federal Ministry of Finance directives for the registration of imported motor vehicles.
“Valuation and assessment of the vehicles will be carried out using the VIN valuation method.
” Import Duty and a 25% penalty shall be paid in tandem with the import guidelines, procedures, and documentation requirements for used vehicles under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria (2013) and the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023.
” Also, duty payments must be made using the Procedure Code specifically created for this exercise.
“This initiative reflects our unwavering commitment to facilitating compliance. We encourage all stakeholders to capitalize on this opportunity within the stipulated timeframe” the statement added.
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