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IMB removes Nigeria from piracy record list

Cumulative activities of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, may have resulted in the removal of Nigeria from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy record list.

The NIMASA Director-General, Dr Bashir Jamoh confirmed this at the 2nd Edition of Nigerian Admiralty Law Colloquium in Lagos.

The colloquium organised by NIMASA in conjunction with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) had the theme: “Maritime Safety and Shipping Development: Reflections and the Way Forward”.

According to Jamoh, this is due to the efforts being made by the country in her quest for security in the Gulf of Guinea.

“On maritime security, in 2019 the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act came into law and provides the legal teeth for the war against piracy in the Nigerian maritime environment.

“The further zeal to keep our maritime space secured, promote socio-economic development and leave no stone unturned, led to the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure.

”This is popularly referred to as the Deep Blue Project.

“The project consists of a sophisticated naval, aerial and land arsenal manned by highly trained and well-motivated professionals along the Gulf of Guinea and on the high seas to tame piracy and secure human lives.

“We have also leaned heavily on the limitless resources of information technology to integrate our security operations to provide stability to a singular non-oil sector that sustains the Nigerian economy,” he said.

Jamoh said that this was important because the development of shipping had the capacity to generate over $12b annually and millions of jobs.

He added that these interventions by the agency were being recognised as IMB had acknowledged their efforts and commended Nigerian’s progress in her quest for security in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to the Director-General, vessels calling on Nigerian ports are regularly inspected and the applicable international conventions standards implemented.

Jamoh said the cooperation and support of the judiciary were also crucial, adding that the theme of this year’s colloquium hinged on collaboration, cooperation, coordination and communication.

“It calls for general participation; togetherness, we can gain efficiency, rationalise, join forces and create economies of scale that will make Nigeria more visible, credible and resourceful.

“This forum presents another opportunity for reviewing the steps so far taken with a view to achieving a more comprehensive policy for adjudicating admiralty conflicts,” he said.

Prof. Tawfiq Ladan of NIALS noted that timelines in justice dispensation were critical to realising the potentials of the maritime sector and this would enable investors to trust the judicial process.

He added that the more time taken on a case, the more investment opportunities are lost.

“Hence efficient and timely dispensation of justice in maritime-related cases will boost stakeholders and investor confidence in the judicial system,” he said.

Ladan noted that the 2022 theme was necessitated by the obvious fact that in February 2020, they x-rayed the 1st stand-alone Anti-sea piracy and maritime crimes law in the entire Gulf of Guinea belonging to Nigeria and identified loopholes in the infant law.

He added that they concluded that in spite of its teething problem, it remained a vital tool for accelerating and achieving safe and secure shipping in Nigeria,

Ladan said that in April 2021, the maiden colloquium explored the critical role of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies in achieving the NIMASA TRIPOD-S initiative (Maritime Safety. Security and Shipping Development).

He said this was within its deep blue project in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.

He said it was concluded that, unless member states in the Gulf of Guinea region stepped up prosecution efforts and bring suspected pirates to justice, the region would remain the world’s piracy hotspot.

“Through this strategic colloquium, we wish to enhance the capacity of, and remind our, justice sector actors, that we will all prosper when the seas around us are safe, secure and free for all to use and exploit natural resources, promote trade and investment, tourism, others.

“Through this colloquium, we hope to build a greater understanding of the common challenges of maritime safety and security.

“Also, on how SPOMO Act 2019 seeks to promote synergy among justice sector actors like judges, prosecutors, others to effectively respond to challenges,” he said.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, in his keynote address, urged that litigants adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in resolving issues in the maritime sector.

According to him, the colloquium must come up with a fundamental resolution that will impact the maritime sector and this has to do with adopting ADR.

“Litigation is not necessarily the best solution in fighting the issue in Maritime dispute so the need to adopt a faster means,” he said.

The colloquium has been institutionalised by the NIMASA in line with its mandate to promote the development of shipping and building capacity in the maritime sector with the target being Judges of the Federal High Court who are vested with exclusive jurisdiction over Admiralty matters.