NIMASA task Judges on efficient dispute resolution
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has urged the Nigerian judicial system to ensure efficiency and timeliness in the dispensation of justice in maritime related cases, as a catalyst to boosting stakeholders and investors’ confidence in the system.
The DG who stated this at the 8th Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges organized by NIMASA in conjunction with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) on Monday, further explained that the maritime sector in Nigeria has a lot of opportunities to become an economic driver and which can be fully actualized when the various arms of government work collaborate on critical issues such as timely resolution of disputes.
Drawing from the theme: “Strengthening Nigeria’s Admiralty Regime through Effective Implementation of International Maritime and Labour Instruments”Dakuku said:
“Timeliness in justice dispensation is very key to realizing the potentials in the maritime sector so that investors’ can trust our judicial process. The more time taken on a case, the more investment opportunities are lost; I therefore wish to use this opportunity to appeal to our judges to facilitate timely resolution of dispute for maritime cases as we all have one role or the other to play in catalysing the Nigerian economy.”
Meanwhile the DG NIMASA disclosed that the Agency has already ratified 40 conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) on maritime safety, maritime labour and marine environment management, domesticating 19 of these conventions either by adoption, regulations or by incorporation under the Merchant Shipping Act, 2007.
This is even as he further stated that the Agency is working closely with the Federal Ministry of Transportation under the auspices of an Inter-Ministerial Committee to ratify an additional six IMO conventions before the end of 2019 to ensure that Nigeria as an IMO member state fulfils its treaty obligation. These conventions are; The Hong Kong International Convention for safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships 2009; Protocol Relating to Intervention on the high seas in cases of oil pollution casualties (Intervention Protocol) 1973; 1996 Protocol on limitation of liability for maritime claims (LLMC).
Others are; 2002 Protocol relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea (PAL) 1976; International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) 1995; and the Protocol of 2005 to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Act against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.
He assured that as a responsible agency, NIMASA is working with relevant stakeholders under the auspices of the IMO Mandatory States Audit Scheme (IMSAS) Corrective Action Plan Committee to ensure that all queries raised in the 2016 IMO Audit report on Nigeria’s maritime sector are addressed before the end of the first quarter of 2019 in order to boost Nigeria’s reelection bid into Category ‘C’ of the IMO General Council.
Speaking on maritime security the NIMASA DG informed participants that the draft suppression of piracy and other maritime offenses bill facilitated by the Agency, aimed at criminalizing piracy and other maritime offenses has been forwarded to the National Assembly, adding that the bill has passed first reading in both chambers of the National Assembly, even as he expressed hope that it will be passed to Law before the end of the 8th Assembly.
Responding, the Director General of NIALS, Professor Adedeji Adekunle who was represented by the Director of Studies, Associate Professor Emmanuel Okon of NIALS, corroborated the stance of the DG, NIMASA on the need to expedite judgments on maritime related cases. “The crux of the matter lies on enforcements and the stakeholders who happens to be the judiciary”, he said.He also gave assurances that NIALS will continue to partner NIMASA in order to realize a timely judicial dispensation in the maritime sector.
It will be recalled 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 initial target being judges of the Federal High Court who by provision of Section 251 (I) (g) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), are vested with exclusive jurisdiction over Admiralty matters. This 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.
Present at the event were Justice of the Court of Appeal, M.L. Garba; Chief Judge of Ogun State, Mosunmola Arinola; Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Justice Godwin Abraham amongst other notable legal luminaries.