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Nigeria firms up commitment to enhance railway technology in the country

—as Buhari commissions  locomotive, rolling plant in Ogun State
The Eyewitness reporter
In demonstrating its commitment to revitalizing and ensuring the sustainability of the ongoing railway modernization project, the Federal Government has commissioned the Kajola Wagon Assembly Plant in Ogun State.
President Muhammadu Buhari who performed the commissioning of the project, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, expressed immense pleasure over the project which was conceived and flagged off on November 8, 2019, by Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo.
Furthermore, the President said it will not only generate the needed employment but will boost economic opportunities for the citizenry as it will promote and develop local capacity in the Assembling and Manufacturing of Rolling Stock.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, said the project is in compliance with the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 that stipulates “companies’ involvement in infrastructure development within the country to ensure transfer of technology to Nigeria”.
It is in line with this Order that the Federal Ministry of Transportation in March 2018 signed an agreement with Messrs. China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to facilitate the establishment of the plant with the Federal Government providing an enabling environment and necessary support in terms of Tax Waivers, Utilities (Power and Water Supply), Access Road and Rail Sidings amongst others.
According to the President, the Locomotive and Rolling Depot has the capacity to produce 500 Wagons per year of Open Wagons, Container Flat Wagons and Box Wagons, adding that the first set of Wagons assembled in Nigeria are being rolled out for freight services.
The “advantage of setting up the plant is the potential to be provided by the ongoing rail projects in the country and Sub-African Region which will generate significant demand for Nigerians Rolling Stock” Buhari observed.
“With the milestone achieved, we are seriously working to open the first University of Transportation in Daura, Katsina State. The intention of this University is to ensure adequate turn out of graduates, technicians, artisans, and researchers on different areas of transportation especially railway transportation to guarantee the sustainability of the massive infrastructural provision of this administration on rail transportation” the President assured.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said: “There is no gainsaying that this is one of the landmark legacies of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, designed to ensure the sustainability of railway development in the country”.
While assuring that the Federal Ministry of Transportation will remain committed to full implementation of the Government’s Policy on Railway Modernization and expansion of the transportation network, she disclosed that it will be done in an environmentally friendly system that engenders socio-economic development of the country.
 Delivering a goodwill message, the Vice Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Sen. Tolulope Odebiyi,  said the former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosu, should be lauded for ensuring that the assembly plant was built in the State.
Odebiyi said that the establishment of the wagon plant would transfer knowledge required for the sustainability of the infrastructure.
He appreciated President Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Transportation for spending the money appropriated judiciously for the completion of the project.
He lauded President Buhari, saying the infrastructure is a legacy that would never be forgotten.
On his part, a Member, of the National Assembly, representing Ojo Federal Consistency and House of Representative Committee on Marine Transportation, Hon. Tajudeen Adekunle Obasa, said the commissioning of the wagon plant had restored the glory of Nigeria as the Giant of Africa.
In his remarks, the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, who was obviously overjoyed said the plant was a dream come true, adding that it would serve as a source for replacement of faulty wagons instead of sourcing them overseas.
Okhiria said some wagons had been delivered to NRC for trials, and had been tested and confirmed as meeting international standards.
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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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