By Osagie Edward
Between 2020 and 023, the Nigerian Maritime Adminisration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has brought the country to speed the maritime world with the ratification of six conventions of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO. Dr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, OFR, led Management of NIMASA in the last three years have doubled Nigeria’s momentum for a viable blue economy that seeks to harness its maritime potentials for economic sustainability and growth.
While Jamoh’s implementation drive has earned Nigeria some accolades, it is noteworthy that a lot couldn’t have been achieved without reliable legal backing either as legislations or international conventions which Nigeria had acceded to. At present, not less than six international conventions have been ratified by Nigeria for proper governance of the country’s maritime space.
The ratified conventions by the Nigerian government spell out proper mode of governance of various areas such as standards of training certification and watch keeping for the fishing sector, pollution management and carriage of passenger baggage by sea.
Nigeria has ratified Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of hips 2009, International Convention on Standard of Training , Certification and Watch-keeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel,( STCW-F) 1995, Protocol Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Polluion Causalities Intervention Protocol, 1973, Protocol on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, LLMC, , 1996, Protocol to the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 2002 and Protocol of 1988 to the 2005 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Act against the Safety of Fixed Platforms located on the Continental Shelf (SUA PROT 2005).
Within the three years period of Jamoh’s Administration, the agency also concluded the review of 49 Regulations made pursuant to the Merchant Shipping Act, 2007. Laws in this category specifically sought to protect interests of indigenous professionals and investors in the nation’s maritime industry with first choice opportunity preferences.
It also bridged operational gaps between the maritime sector and other areas while fostering inter-agency collaboration with other federal government owned agencies. Jamoh and his team have succeeded in executing some Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between the agency and the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, NIIT, Zaria, and National Oil Spill Protection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, among others.
Other MoUs reached by Jamoh led NIMASA, in the last three years include Memorandum of Understanding on the recognition of Certificate of Competency, CoC, and Training of Seafarers between Nigeria and sixteen other countries. This is aimed at expanding opportunities for international level job placement for holders of Nigeria CoC while also causing Nigerian skilled maritime manpower deployment in addressing global challenge of declined number of seafarers.
NIMASA has achieved the automation of the registration process of Shipping Company /Agents resulting in Certificates being embedded with QR Codes for authentication. This has successfully eliminated the back and forth incidents of alleged fake certificates in the past and has enthroned greater level of integrity and accountability in the certification process.
The agency’s deliberate drive to educate and strengthen judicial officers on how best to handle admiralty cases was not left behind in the period under review.NIMASA successfully hosted the annual Nigerian Admiralty Law Colloquium in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies , NIALS, and the National Judicial Institute, NJI, for the years 2021, 2022 and 2023.
On anti-piracy operations, NIMASA, under Jamoh, championed implementation of the Suppression of Piracy and Maritime Offences, SPOMO, Act, 2019, which has enhanced safer and secured trading routes through the Gulf of Guinea region and ensured proper prosecution of a sizeable number of cases such as FGN v Binaebi Johnson and eight others, FGN V Frank Abaka and nine others.
This landmark SPOMO Act initiated by the Nigerian government is presently being studied by other maritime administrations across the West and Central African subregions owing to its huge success in fighting piracy with a rich legal framework that is marked with successes since its implementation began.
Beyond the shores of Nigeria, notable global maritime personalities like Kitack Lim, the Secretary General of IMO and Dr. Paul Adalikwu, Secretary General of Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa, MOWCA, have recommended the SPOMO Act model to other African Maritime Administrations.
All these achievements of NIMASA, over the last three years under the Leadership of Dr. Jamoh and his Management team shows an agency that is focused on the use the instrumentality of the Law to enhance the values the Nigerian maritime industry adds to the nation’s economy.
Osagie Edward is an Assistant Director and Head, NIMASA, Public Relations Department