Hard times await criminals operating on the Nigerian territorial waters as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) fine tuned the implementation of the Supression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act 2019 to fight maritime crimes to stand still on the nation’s territorial waters.
This was even as the two government agencies decried the high rate of piracy, armed robbery at nation’s sea and other maritime crimes on Nigerian waters.
Speaking yesterday at the 9th Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges with the theme: “Supressing Of Piracy And Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act 2019: Keys To Accelerating and Secure Shipping,” the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside said with the world’s waters accounting over 80 per cent of transportation requirements in the global trading supply chain network across established international routes and trade lanes, the threats of piracy, armed robbery at sea and other maritime crimes have been an issue of global concern.
According to him, the Gulf of Guinea sadly, had been at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region. Adding that the challenge of maritime insecurity in the region had been further compounded by a deficit of legislation to address the challenge.
He added, “With the signing into law by Mr. President on June 24, 2019, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, facilitated by NIMASA, there is now a robust and detailed framework in place for the criminalization and punishment of piracy and other maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.”
Speaking further, he said the discussion at the seminar for judges will facilitate an understanding of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act and the collaborative mechanisms between the Judiciary and enforcement agencies in the implementation of the Act.
The DG noted that the seminar will equip participants with the essential knowledge on the requirement of Nigeria’s obligations under the Act; and to foster interaction between the judiciary and enforcement officers to share ideas on the likely challenges if any in the enforcement of the Act.
Also speaking at the event, Director General of NIALS, Prof. Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan said the theme of the seminar was necessitated by the obvious fact of the coming into force of the 1st stand-alone Anti-sea Piracy and maritime crimes law in the Gulf of Guinea aimed at stemming the waves/tides of acts of sea piracy and armed robbery and other challenges of maritime safety and security that hamper sustainable economic growth and development of all the littoral states in the Gulf of Guinea Region.
For instance, he hinted, that West Africa and its trading partners lost about &2.3 billion to maritime crimes between 2016 and 2018 and annually lost about $777 million between 2015 and 2018 in addition to human costs as the Gulf of Guinea experienced an escalation of privacy, kidnapping and armed robbery at sea incidents in 2018 and 2019.
He explained: “A 2018 Maritime Crime report released as at May 2019, shows that Nigeria, with a coastline of about 853km, has been tagged as a privacy hotspot, by the International Maritime Bureau because in the first Quarter of 2018, Nigeria alone accounts for 22 out of 66 piracy and armed robbery at sea incidents and 8 of 11 vessels fired upon globally.
“In 2019, IMF (Q3) report revealed that Lagos sea port recorded 11 of such incidents making it the highest globally. The Gulf of Guinea is home to Nigeria, the largest economy and the most populous nation in Africa, whose economy generates more than 70 per cent of the seaborne trade in west Africa and Gulf of Guinea because about 90 per cent of global trade is carried out by the international shipping industry for import/export of goods.”
Through this strategic maritime law seminar, he said, “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 fee for all to use and exploit natural resources, promote trade and investment, tourism, marine science and technology maritime transport, infrastructure development, sustain fisheries and protection of the marine environment.”
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