By Ray Ugochukwu
To reposition the country’s maritime sector, it is necessary to provide updates on information and law in the system, hence the decision of the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to work closely the country’s judiciary.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated this at the opening of the 7th Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges held in Lagos recently.
Speaking on the theme “Towards Effective Admiralty in a Blue Economy”, organised jointly by NIMASA and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Peterside said that in initiating the seminar, the agency noted the complex and time sensitiveness of maritime issues and the consequent requirement for prompt resolutions.
According to him, “In initiating this event, the Agency is not unaware of the complex and time sensitive nature of maritime issues and their attendant requirement for speedy resolutions often through judicial pronouncements by superior courts of records. The scenario no doubt puts pressure not only on those entrusted with the responsibility of responding to the economic exigencies, but also on judicial officers responsible for balancing important notions of justice, contract and the law”
The NIMASA boss also noted that the objective of the seminar over the years had been to sensitize the target judges on contemporary maritime law issues both within and outside the Nigerian jurisdiction as shipping was a multi-jurisdictional enterprise.
He added that in line with NIMASA’s commitment towards ensuring capacity-building for critical stakeholders, the Agency decided to expand the scope of attendees to cover Justices of the Court of Appeal because of their critical roles in the dispensation of justice.
“This seminar was initiated by NIMASA for Judges of the Federal High Court bearing in mind the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court over Admiralty matters. Over the years however, the participating audience was expanded to include Judges of the State High Courts of littoral states of the Federation and now Justices of the Court of Appeal because of their critical roles in the dispensation of justice in admiralty matters”, he said.
Peterside opined that notwithstanding the stride being made by the Agency in the area of safety and security of the Nigerian maritime domain, the management equally recognized the need for increased partnership and collaboration amongst all stakeholders, the Judiciary inclusive.
This, he added, was in the actualisation of the collective vision for environmental, social and economic growth and the sustainability of the nation’s shipping and maritime transport sector in a Blue Economy.
Earlier in his remarks, the DG of NIALS, Prof. Deji Adekunle, commended the NIMASA leadership for continuous collaboration with relevant stakeholders to advance the nation’s maritime industry.
He said the institute would continue to collaborate with the Agency and provide necessary assistance in its bid to ensure a safe and secure maritime space.
It should be noted that the Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges is an initiative of NIMASA designed to sensitize judges on maritime law issues. This year’s event is the 7th in the series and was organised by NIMASA in collaboration with NIALS.
Present at the event included former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Auta, Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, amongst other notable legal luminaries.
Meanwhile, Dr. Peterside has attributed the underdevelopment of the maritime sector to lack of knowledge of its potentials and government’s failure over the years to invest in infrastructures to boost its exploitation.
He took this position while in an interactive session media practitioners in Lekki, Lagos recently, where he added that structures had not been put in place for people to take advantage of the “Blue Economy”.
The NIMASA helmsman pointed out that the absence of all these had made it difficult for people to maximize the benefits from the Blue Economy, which he observed possessed beneath and above it more potentials than what Oil & Gas could give the country.