Stories by Andrew Airahuobhor / Correspondent, Lagos
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, has called on the judiciary to support its quest to rid the country’s waterways of pirates and crude oil thieves.
He stated this on Wednesday at the 6th Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges organized by the Agency in Lagos, which was attended by chief justice of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta as well as other members of the bench, including some senior advocates of Nigeria (SAN), particularly in maritime law.
The NIMASA boss, who spoke passionately about his desire for and achievements in the maritime industry, urged the eminent jurists to support the Agency through speedy and efficient dispensation of justice.
He regretted that several oil thieves and pirates the Agency arrested in the past were soon released back into the society because of the challenge of quick dispensation of justice.
He noted that if such alleged criminals, most of which were arrested with guns and dangerous weapons, are released without facing the law, it will endanger the lives of officials of the Agency. This is in addition to the possibility of the culprits going back into crime.
The menace of pirates and oil thieves, according to Akpobolokemi are part of factors making shipping business unattractive.
He said that 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 objective of facilitating interaction and exchange of ideas amongst stakeholders in the sector.
The project, he said, was initially conceived for the Judges of the Federal High Court, who by the provision of section 251 (1) (g) of the 1999 constitution as amended, are vested with exclusive jurisdiction over Admiralty matters; but with time, the 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.
The seminar has in the preceding six years sensitized judges on contemporary maritime law issues both within and outside the Nigerian jurisdiction, as shipping by its nature, is a multi-jurisdictional enterprise.
“In initiating the Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges, we have recognized the complex nature of maritime issues which require speedy resolutions as time is of essence in maritime ventures. These issues would oftentimes require resolution through judicial pronouncements by a competent court of law, which no doubt puts pressure on those entrusted with the responsibility of not only responding to meet the economic exigencies of the scenarios, but also judicial officers responsible for balancing important notions of justice, contract and law,” he said.
Source : Independent