The Nigerian maritime sector is aligning with international best practices. The apex maritime body has revealed that it has been able to ratify 40 conventions passed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) covering maritime safety, labour and marine environment.
The revelation was made by Dakuku Peterside, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), who spoke in Lagos during the 8th Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges organized by NIMASA in conjunction with Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS).
He explained that the non-implementation and enforcement of the conventions have been affecting investments in the country. He said that so far 19 of the conventions have been domesticated by way of regulation, adoption or incorporation under the Merchant Shipping Act of 2007.
“It has been a herculean task trying to sell Nigeria to the international community for investments because in some cases, the investors had raised the issue of uncertainty in the dispensation of litigations and implementations of laws.
“It is on the premise that the seminar titled Strengthening Nigeria’s Admiralty Regime through Effective Implementation of International Maritime and Labour Instruments was imperative,” the DG said.
Speaking further, he stated that the Agency is working closely with the Federal Ministry of Transportation under the auspices of an Inter-Ministerial Committee to ratify an additional six IMO conventions before the end of 2019 to ensure that Nigeria as an IMO member state fulfils its treaty obligation.
These conventions are: The Hong Kong International Convention for safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships 2009; Protocol Relating to Intervention on the high seas in cases of oil pollution casualties (Intervention Protocol) 1973; 1996 Protocol on the limitation of liability for maritime claims (LLMC).
Others are; 2002 Protocol relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea (PAL) 1976; International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) 1995; and the Protocol of 2005 to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Act against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.
He also gave the assurance that NIMASA as a responsible Agency is working with relevant stakeholders under the auspices of the IMO Mandatory States Audit Scheme (IMSAS) Corrective Action Plan Committee to ensure that all queries raised in the 2016 IMO Audit report on Nigeria’s maritime sector are addressed before the first quarter of 2019 in order to boost Nigeria’s reelection bid into Category ‘C’ of the IMO General Council.
In the area of maritime security, which is critical to actualizing safe and secure shipping, the NIMASA DG informed participants that the draft suppression of piracy and other maritime offences bill facilitated by the Agency, aimed at criminalizing piracy and other maritime offences has been forwarded to the National Assembly, adding that the bill has passed first reading in both chambers of the National Assembly. He also expressed optimism that it will be passed to Law before the end of the 8th Assembly.
Dr. Dakuku who reiterated the fact that the maritime sector in Nigeria has a lot of opportunities to become an economic driver and this can be fully actualized when the various arms of government work together collaboratively, urged the Nigerian judicial system to ensure efficiency and timeliness in the dispensation of justice in maritime-related cases, as it will boost stakeholders and investors’ confidence in the system.
“Timeliness in justice dispensation is very key to realizing the potentials in the maritime sector so that investors’ can trust our judicial process. The more time taken on a case, the more investment opportunities are lost; I, therefore, wish to use this opportunity to appeal to our judges to facilitate timely resolution of dispute for maritime cases as we all have one role or the other to play in catalysing the Nigerian economy,” the DG said.
NIMASA in line with its mandate of promoting the development of shipping and building capacity in the maritime sector, instituted the Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges with the initial target being judges of the Federal High Court who by provision of Section 251 (I) (g) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), are vested with exclusive jurisdiction over Admiralty matters. This scope subsequently expanded to include Justices of the Court of Appeal and the State High Court Judges of the littoral states, mindful also of their strategic roles in the dispensation of justice.
Present at the event includes; Justice of the Court of Appeal, M.L. Garba Chief Judge of Ogun State, Mosunmola Arinola,Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Justice Godwin Abraham, amongst other notable legal luminaries.