07 January 2014, Lagos – The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has called for the support of the country’s judicial system to enable it curb criminal activities in the nation’s maritime sector.
The Director General of the Agency, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi,made the call during the fifth Strategic Admiralty Seminar for Judges, organised by the Agency in Lagos.
He said the support of the judiciary will aid the Agency in the timely prosecution of persons involved in illegal activities in the nation’s territorial waters.
The NIMASA boss said that the agency had made several arrests of persons involved in illegal bunkering, oil theft and piracy-related activities who are yet to be prosecuted due to challenges in the system.
Akpobolokemi noted that very little result had been recorded in prosecution and therefore called on the judiciary and other legal officers to assist the Agency in its relentless fight against maritime crimes.
While stating that NIMASA has been effectively collaborating with the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies to curb crimes at sea, Mr. Akpobolokemi noted that their gains can only become tangible when the judiciary plays its part effectively.
Commenting on human capacity development, the Director-General declared that significant gains had been recorded through the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), which is expected to outlive the present management of the Agency.
“We have embarked on a conscious effort to develop manpower for the Nigerian maritime sector with the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme.”
In order to further advance the capacity development initiatives, Akpobolokemi stated that the Agency had received approval from the Federal Executive Council to establish maritime institutes in four Nigerian universities.
These are: University of Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State; and Niger Delta University Amasomma, Bayelsa State, in addition to on-going plans for the establishment of a Nigerian Maritime University.
He pledged the Agency’s commitment to continuously fund the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, noting that partnership with the institution would be strengthened.
Participants at the seminar thanked the management of NIMASA for organising the programme, noting that it would broaden their appreciation of the application and practice of admiralty law in Nigeria.
The Strategic Admiralty Seminar, an initiative of the Agency, is an annual programme which brings together Justices of the Appeal Court, High Courts and lawyers to brainstorm on contemporary issues in Admiralty law and practice.
*Godfrey Bivbere, Vanguard