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SOAN Advocates Stringent Measures Against Illegal High Sea Poachers

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Aminat Isah, Abuja
Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) have frowned at the continuous over-fishing and unregulated fishing by illegal high sea poachers who are mainly foreign vessels.
Margret Onyema-Orakwusi, speaking to newsmen at the on-going Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) said it is unacceptable to have foreigners invade the Nigerian waters and encroach on her natural resources and losing billions of dollars annually.
She noted that if the irresponsible manner with which the illegal fishing is done, it becomes very unfortunate as there are regulations in fishing which must be complied with.
“My question then is,  we have these poachers that come to our waters without compliance to any known international or local law , they steal,  they fish in a very irresponsible manner which means they sweep from bottom to top because they have nothing at stake in our waters and they  leave and find markets for those products running into billions of dollars annually.”
She further lamented that the cost of Maritime security which she said is very expensive and making it easy for piracy, and  the poarchers who are winning the war in the sea.
“How do we pull back and know some other methods of not encouraging what they are doing, of not allowing them sell their products and that is what we have been trying to advocate.
“The stolen products where are they finding market,  what banking institutions do they use that they are  not being accused of money laundering or that accommodates proceeds of crime,  because for those of us who do it the right way,  you have to invite getting your payment anywhere,  tell the history of the fund.
“Why are the thieves getting  away with it,  is it an international conspiracy?  So if we are not able to face the poachers in the high sea we should be able to force the financial institutions to be more prudent,  ask questions,  we have the law of money laundering all over the world,” she said.
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Senate passes amended oil production sharing contract law

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*Targets N1.5bn annual revenue
*Slams N500m penalty/5yrs jail term on defaulters 
Senate yesterday passed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with expected revenue projection of N1.5billion annually.
This was as the upper chamber has raised the penalty for defaulters of this law from N20million fine or one year imprisonment to N500million fine or an option of Five years imprisonment.
President Muhammadu Buhari had  at the commencement of Tuesday’s plenary, transmitted a letter to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan seeking amendment of the Act for urgent assent.
The President’s letter coincided with the Senate consideration of the report of Senate’s joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Gas, Finance, and Judiciary, Human Rights and  Legal Matters on the Bill for final passage.
Passing the bill titled: “Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2019 “for second reading Tuesday, the Senate introduced sections 17 and 18 into it for appropriate penalties against violation of section 16  of the Act.
In his  report, chairman of the joint committee, Senator Albert Akpan Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom North East), explained that the committee’s recommendation “alters the royalty payable by the PSC contractors such that whenever oil and gas price increases, the share of government also increases automatically with the inception of the newly introduced royalty by price mechanism.
 The bill, he informed provides that whenever oil price goes above US$20 per barrel, the royalty by price shall kick in so that government can participate in reaping the benefits of increase in oil price.
“Another significant recommendation contained in our report is that every PSC company operating in our deep offshore shall pay appropriate royalty to government irrespective of the terrain or water depth in which they operate.”
Consequently, he noted: “This will mark the end of zero royalty in our deep offshore and will greatly improve government revenue.
“The Joint Committee report also contains recommendations for 10 yearly review of the PSCs as well as offences and penalty clause to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act. This means that Nigeria will never lose revenue again just because no one cared to activate the provisions of the extant law.
“Mr. President and Distinguished Colleagues, the Joint Committee report contains this long-awaited amendment of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act Cap 03 LFN 2004. This amendment will ensure that the share of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in the additional revenue is adjusted to the extent that the PSCs shall be economically beneficial to Nigeria.”
The Bill which most senators considered he fastest ever passed on the floor of the Senate went through clause by clause consideration and finally scaled through third and final passage.
Fielding questions from journalists after passage of the bill, Senators Akpan and Ubah said the adjustment in the penalty for defaulters of the law when assented to by President Buhari ranges  from one jail term or a fine of N20million by the joint committee to five year imprisonment or N500million fine was by committee of the whole.
It would be recalled that Senator Ubah had on October 2,2019 brought to he consciousness his colleagues at plenary  through a motion on the loss  of a whooping sum of N7trillion to the nation’s economy through the multi-National oil companies on the  non-review of Production Sharing Contracts by the Joint Ventures Companies, JVC.
Senator Ubah, in the motion which was co-sponsored by 27 other lawmakers, informed the Senate that salient provisions of the contractual agreements between Nigeria and the affected oil firms , have not been adhered to by parties concerned  which according to him, had bled the nation’s economy to the tune of $21billion, equivalent of N7trillion.
The N7trillion loss, according to him, were revenues that supposed to have accrued  into the federation account from shares Nigeria supposed to have gotten from the oil firms anytime oil price rises above $20 per barrel as provided for in section 16 of the Production Sharing Contract Oil.
He added that the required periodic reviews that are supposed to be done on the Act in 2008, 2013 and 2018 as provided for in the Act, were not carried out with attendant further loses on the part of Nigerian government .
Consequently, an amendment bill seeking for penalties against the fraud , was tabled and passed for first reading on the floor of the Senate on Thursday last week was sponsored by Senators Akpan and Ubah respectively.
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Group urges Buhari to restrict importation of roofing sheets, others

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The Federal Government has been advised to adopt policy framework that will lead to the restriction of importation of goods such galvanized roofing sheets and other steel products that are abundantly produced in Nigeria to further boost the nation’s economy.

With the land border closure, it is evident that agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy has improved, therefore, it is a tested hypothesis that if adequate attention is given to the seaports operations, smuggling will be tackled and the steel sector will be saved from collapse.

The Galvanized Iron and Steel Manufacturers’ Association, (GISMA) in a statement signed by its Spokesperson, Mr. Lateef Bello, on Wednesday noted that the boarder closure has brought more economic benefits to the nation.

GISMA noted that the revenue declared by the authority of Nigeria Customs Service, (NSC) is commendable stressing that more can still be achieved through holistic approach to the ongoing smuggling of roofing sheets and other steel products.

According to the statement, “For President Muhammadu Buhari to actualize the many targets as contained in the 2020 appropriation bill presented before the joint session of National Assembly, there is need to place absolute restriction on items made in Nigeria. At the moment, it is saddened to note that smuggled roofing sheets of low standards have flooded Nigerian markets at the detriment of local manufacturers and unsuspecting consumers.

“Going by the experience of some emerging economies in the world such as Malaysia and Singapore, no items produced in these two countries are allowed to be imported and the restriction policy has accelerated their Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) as well as their security techniques.

“It is important to take comparative advantage of this policy to further relief Nigerians of the sufferings and unemployment persisting in the nation. Iron and Steel industry if well protected, is capable of generating an average of 20,000 jobs yearly with significant turnover on the Internally Generated Revenue for the government.”

The group however appealed to President Buhari to take bold steps towards salvaging the economic interest of local manufacturers as well as curbing insecurity which has ravaged some states in the North-East. This was part of our public outcries during a peaceful protest held recently in Kaduna; we thank Mr. President for heeding to our plights.

“In as much as we want to encourage President Muhammadu Buhari to beef up more surveillance on Nigerian Boarder Control System, it is pertinent for the federal government and other relevant agencies to ensure that importation of goods are carried out through Premier Ports with full documentations and follow-ups”, he added.

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Threat Of Piracy, Armed Robbery At Sea, Issue Of Global Concern-Buhari

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Aminat Isah, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the need for a collaborative efforts as a way of curbing security issues in the Gulf of Guinea.

Buhari stated this to declare open the Global Maritime Security Conference(GMSC) in Abuja today, saying that the Gulf of Guinea through which many critical trade routes connecting the continent to the rest of the world runs through is vital and central to global trade.

According to Buhari, who was represented by the minister of state Foreign affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, world waters account for over 80% of transportation requirements in the global trading supply chain network across established international routes and trade lanes, while the threats of piracy and armed robbery at sea are an issue of global concern.

He noted that the Gulf of Guinea today is at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region.

He further explained that available statistics however indicates that efforts to eradicate the menace by the governments in the region are bearing dividends.

Citing example of efforts put in place so far, Buhari said ” I am pleased to mention that Nigeria has put in place a suppression of piracy and other offences act, which I signed I to law on the 24th of June 2019.

“The act in essence seek to give further credence to the relevant international treaties of the United Nations and International Maritime Organisation ratified by Nigeria and the continental and regional treaties subscribed to on maritime safety and security, to provide the much needed legal and institutional framework for Nigeria to ensure safe and secure shipping in Nigerian waters.

“The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre which recently reported that there has been a welcome and marked decrease in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, particularly commending the Nigerian Navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats,” He said

The Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi earlier in his address pointed out that the conference is organised to examine and address the issues of maritime security with a spotlight on the Gulf of Guinea Region, hence the significant global concern on the rising spate of maritime insecurity and the perception that the Gulf of Guinea Region which accounts for most of these cases.

Amaechi, who was represented by the Minister of State Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, further said the position of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea led to the decision of the country to take the lead on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states in convening the Conference to examine the strategies and coordinated responses in place to address maritime insecurity.

“Whilst there have been several endeavors to address the broad array of real and potential threats in the Gulf of Guinea over time, the approach this time is to appraise the relevance and impacts of the various interventions initiated already to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.

“The absence of legal frameworks within member states seems to be a significant challenge in the regional effort to stem the tide,”

She further explained that Nigeria, in a bid to stem the tide has put in place detailed legislation in the form of a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle and repress piracy and other maritime crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain.

“An integrated maritime security architecture has also been emplaced with a command and control centre for effective policing of the Nigerian waters. The initiative encompasses three main components:  A C4-I Intelligence system to enhance domain awareness; acquisition of land, air and marine assets for patrols, quick response and interdiction; and the retraining and capacity building of military response teams to effectively respond to threats and incidents within the maritime domain,” she said.

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