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Business Drags as 24 Government Agents Inspect Ships

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Ship Aveon Offshore
  • Business Drags as 24 Government Agents Inspect Ships

The ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government is under a serious threat from the activities of some government agencies at the seaports.

Our correspondent learnt that about 24 personnel from more than seven government agencies would go aboard ships for inspection whenever a vessel berthed at the country’s port.

According to some concerned port operators, most of the time, what the agents do inside the vessels is either to loot or extort their owners.

The delays to vessels calling at the ports due to the multiple checks conducted by government agents aboard ships led to a recommendation by an inter-agency and port stakeholders’ committee on the implementation of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s Executive Order on port operation, that the number be reviewed.

Stakeholders have said that the processes of the agencies slow down ship discharging operations.

Those agencies listed for vessel inspection are Port Health Authority (four or five personnel), Nigeria Immigration Service (four personnel), Nigeria Customs Service (three personnel), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (three personnel), Marine Pollution (three personnel), Department of State Service, (two personnel), Nigerian Ports Authority’s International Ship and Port Facility Security (one personnel), State Port Control (four personnel).

Our correspondent gathered, for instance, that cargo operations could not commence except the following documents were issued: free pratique, which is issued by the Port Health Authority; break bulk, which is issued by the Customs.

Also, it was learnt that Immigration would go through all the crew contracts thoroughly, a process which was said to be of no importance to the government of Nigeria, as the contract was strictly between the ship owners and the crew.

According to global best practices, only Port Health Authority should board vessels.

A search by our correspondent showed that in almost all the countries operating a maritime system, representatives of government agencies would not board vessels except for the purpose of determining the safety standard of such vessels or in the event of suspected terrorism.

Also, pre-arrival documents are sent through email for distribution to government agencies.

The Chairman of the International Freight Forwarders Association, Sunny Nnebe, faulted the practice in Nigeria, noting that since the cargo was to be brought down from the ship, there was no point in agencies boarding ships to inspect any cargo.

“The agencies physically examine the consignment after they have been offloaded from the ships; so there is no point in boarding ships and causing delay at a time we are working towards achieving the ease of doing business at the ports.

“Also, after the inspections at the port, police still stop containers along the highway over claims that the goods were not properly checked, as if they were not part of the government agencies that examined the cargo at the port earlier,” he said.

While confirming the allegation of extortion levelled against some of the agents by operators, Nnebe noted that some shipping companies encouraged it.

He said, “Some shipping companies bring in things and fail to reflect them on the manifest and when the security agencies discover this, the shipping companies will buy their silence through bribery,” he alleged.

He, however, noted that the problem was that the agencies were now charging a fixed amount, whether there was an infraction or not.

A maritime expert and lead researcher at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Vincent Nwani, also said that government agencies were not needed aboard vessels.

He pointed out that the vessels were not the items of import but the cargo which should be checked by the Customs when uploaded at the terminals owned by the terminal operators.

The activities of the government agencies aboard vessels, according to him, cause delay and have privacy implications for the vessels.

“Government agencies should stop going into ships, except for engineers who are supposed to check if the ship is in good condition or officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority that handle cases of bunkering where such arise.”

Responding, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NPA, Mr. Ibrahim Nasiru, said that some workers of government agencies were authorised to board ships, depending on what was found in the ship.

He said, “What determines the number of agencies that go on vessels is similar to what happens when a cargo is on the ground. When an agent goes on board the ship and suspects that there may be hard drugs, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency will be called in and when there is health issue, the PHA will be called in; the NIS will also be invited when there is suspicion of breach of immigration laws.

He pointed out that Nigeria could not eliminate ship inspection by agents completely because most processes in the country were still being done manually.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Africa’s Richest Man, Aliko Dangote Ready to Sell Refinery to Nigerian Government

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Dangote refinery

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest entrepreneur, has announced his willingness to sell his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to Nigeria’s state-owned energy company, NNPC Limited.

This decision comes amid a growing dispute with key partners and regulatory authorities.

The $19 billion refinery, which began operations last year, is a significant development for Nigeria, aiming to reduce the country’s reliance on imported fuel.

However, challenges in sourcing crude and ongoing disputes have hindered its full potential.

Dangote expressed frustration over allegations of monopolistic practices, stating that these accusations are unfounded.

“If they want to label me a monopolist, I am ready to let NNPC take over. It’s in the best interest of the country,” he said in a recent interview.

The refinery has faced difficulties with supply agreements, particularly with international crude producers demanding high premiums.

NNPC, initially a supportive partner, has delivered only a fraction of the crude needed since last year. This has forced Dangote to seek alternative suppliers from countries like Brazil and the US.

Despite the challenges, Dangote remains committed to contributing to Nigeria’s economy. “I’ve always believed in investing at home.

This refinery can resolve our fuel crisis,” he stated, urging other wealthy Nigerians to invest domestically rather than abroad.

Recently, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority accused Dangote’s refinery of producing substandard diesel.

In response, Dangote invited regulators and lawmakers to verify the quality of his products, which he claims surpass imported alternatives in purity.

Amidst these challenges, Dangote has halted plans to enter Nigeria’s steel industry, citing concerns over monopoly accusations.

“We need to focus on what’s best for the economy,” he explained, emphasizing the importance of fair competition and innovation.

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the potential sale of Dangote’s refinery to NNPC could reshape the nation’s energy landscape and secure its energy independence.

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Dangote Shelves Steel Project to Prevent Monopoly Allegations

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Aliko Dangote - Investors King

Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, announced the company’s decision to halt plans to enter Nigeria’s steel industry.

The decision comes just two months after the conglomerate had initially unveiled its intentions to invest in the sector as part of efforts to expand the economy.

Addressing journalists at his refinery in Lagos, Dangote explained that the board’s decision was driven by concerns over potential accusations of creating a monopoly.

“We have decided against pursuing the steel business to avoid being labeled a monopoly,” Dangote stated.

He explained that the company’s operations focus on adding value by transforming local raw materials into finished products.

The industrialist dismissed claims that his group enjoys monopolistic advantages, pointing out that their business practices have always fostered a competitive environment.

“When we entered the cement market, Lafarge was the only player, yet no one accused them of being a monopoly,” he stated.

Dangote further encouraged other Nigerian investors to explore opportunities in the steel industry, suggesting that there are ample resources and space for new entrants.

“There are many Nigerians with the financial capacity to invest. They should seize this opportunity to contribute to our nation’s growth,” he urged.

The billionaire’s call to action extended to Nigerians living abroad, inviting them to invest in their homeland.

“Bring your resources back from Dubai and other parts of the world and invest in Nigeria,” he said, reinforcing his commitment to seeing the country’s economy thrive through diverse contributions.

This decision marks a strategic shift for Dangote Industries, focusing on dispelling monopoly myths and promoting a collaborative business landscape.

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Goya Foods Takes Legal Action to Assert ‘Goya Olive Oil’ Trademark Ownership

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Goya Foods

“Goya Olive Oil” trademark in Nigeria, Goya Foods Incorporated has initiated legal proceedings against the Registrar of Trademarks under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.

The case, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/883/2023, was brought before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Goya Foods, a prominent producer and distributor of foods and beverages across the United States, Spanish-speaking countries, and Nigeria, seeks to enforce a longstanding consent judgment issued by the court in December 2006.

The judgment directed the Registrar to rectify the Trademarks Register to reflect Goya Foods Incorporated as the rightful owner of the “Goya Olive Oil” trademark, without any further formalities.

The lawsuit, exclusively revealed to sources, underscores Goya Foods’ determination to safeguard its intellectual property against alleged infringements.

According to court documents, Goya Foods obtained the consent judgment against Chikason Industries Limited, which was accused of marketing “Goya Olive Oil” in Nigeria, thus infringing on Goya Foods’ registered trademark.

Legal counsel for Goya Foods, Ade Adedeji, SAN, emphasized the necessity of rectifying the Trademarks Register to protect their trademark interests effectively.

Despite appeals to the Registrar, the requested rectification has not been implemented, prompting Goya Foods to escalate the matter through legal channels.

The case has been adjourned to September 27, 2024, for further proceedings, highlighting the complexity and significance of trademark disputes in the global marketplace.

Goya Foods remains committed to upholding its brand integrity and securing its proprietary interests amidst the evolving landscape of international trademark law.

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