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Senate passes bill on Nigerian territorial sea administration

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Abayomi Adedinni

The Senate has passed a bill seeking to provide legal framework for the administration of Nigerian territorial sea and offshore activities.

The passage of the bill followed the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters at Tuesday’s plenary.

Presenting the report, the Committee Chairman, Sen. Michael Bamidele said that the bill sought to streamline all national laws in line with global best practices and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

According to the lawmaker, the legislation will set out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas should be carried out.

He noted that Nigeria has vast resources in the ocean, which included oil and gas, fish and fisheries resources, minerals, placer deposits, salt, renewable energy resources amongst others, hence the need for such legislation.

Bamidele stated that stakeholders at a public hearing on the bill, posited that the Territorial Sea, in addition to the Internal Waters, were a zone within which Nigeria had sovereignty.

He, therefore, emphasised that the legal nature of the maritime zone was relevant and sacrosanct to the negotiation process of the establishment of maritime boundaries.

The chairman noted that recent events with neighbouring states had brought to the fore, the seeming shortcomings of Nigeria’s policy on ocean, which was not consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“This obvious shortcomings have made it imperative for us to review our maritime zone legislation, and the underlying policy to enable Nigeria to advance its argument for the ‘Extended Continental Shelf’ claim and effective management of the coastal and ocean environment,” he said.

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