By Stephen Ubanna
Barely three years after The signing of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences , PROMO, Act by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, had said that the agency has made ‘’good progress in the implementation of the act’’.
Jamoh had alluded to the Convictions at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Capital of oil-rich Rivers state and Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre of some arrested and prosecuted Pirates. Note that 10 arrested Pirates who were said to have attacked a Chinese vessel, MV HAILUFANG II, off the coast of Coted’Ivoire and directed it towards Nigerian waters but fell into the waiting hands of the Nigerian Navy were handed over to the agency. They may have formed the first set of suspects that were prosecuted unde the PROMO Act.
Also on the list of the suspects prosecuted under the Law by the agency were three of the suspects, who were said to have been involved in the hijack of an Equatorial Guinea flagged vessel, MV.ELOBEY VI, off the West African country coast on March21, 2020 and securing a $200,000 ransom for the Crew to be released. The agency may have taken advantage of the PROMO Act, to drag the suspects to a Federal High Court in PortHarcourt, capital of oil Rivers state and Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre.
The Maritime Regulatory agency had secured convictions for the three of the suspects dragged to the Federal High Court in PortHarcourt over their involvement in the hijack of an Equatorial flagged vessel, MV. Eobey VI, of the coast of the West African country. There were nine persons that were said to have been involved in the hijack of the vessel.
According to Jamoh, ‘’the Prosecutions and Convictions have greatly helped to improve Nigeria’s image in the comity of nations by producing a better appreciation of the country’s role and determination to end Piracy and other Maritime crimes in the nation’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea.’’
There are indications that more Judgments are expected in the next six months on other Pirates and other sea Criminals who are still standing trial at the Federal High Courts. That much was confirmed by Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General at this year’s Admiralty Law Conference in Lagos.
The NIMASA boss may have taken advantage of the Admiralty Conference, to break the news that from 2022, ‘’Supreme Court Justices and more Lawyers would be included in the Conference in the continuous attempt to fine- tune ‘’the processes and procedures of Justice of Administration in maritime issues’’.
He may have gladdened the heart of the Participants at the Conference, who were mostly from the Federal High Courts including Lawyers, that this year’s Conference, which is the 10th, since it was instituted by the agency in 2009, had’’ achieved significant milestones in its continued effort to better Maritime Law Administration in Nigeria’’. There is no gainsaying the fact that’’ this year’s Conference may have been renamed by the agency ‘’to reflect the current challenges of the nation’s maritime sector and widen the scope of participation’’.
He was said to have promised that the key recommendations captured in in the Communique of the 2020, Admiralty Conference would be forwarded to the National Assembly for the necessary Legislative actions expected to improve the PROMO Act, that had already been signed into law by the Katsina state born Nigerian President, in June 2019.
Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, President of the Court of Appeal, who could not hide he feelings had said that NIMASA is a ‘’key organ of the country’s economic development’’, noting that the Amiralty Law Conference instituted by the agency is ‘‘helping to streamline application of the maritime law in the country’’ .
This year’s Admiralty Conference which has as its theme , achieving Maritime Safety, Security and Shipping Development: The Role of The Judiciary and State Actors. The agency may have been drawn from Jamoh’s agenda for the agency which has to do with’’ Maritime Safety, Security and Shipping Development’’, regarded in maritime circles as the TRIPODS, through the Enforcement of Legislations and the implementation of the Deep Blue Project.