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FG moves to enforce Anti-piracy Law

        ·   Stiff penalty awaits offenders

L-R: Director General, Nigeria Institute of Advance studies, Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan; DG, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside; Representative of the Chief Naval Staff, Real Admiral Murtala Mormoni Bashir; Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, NIMASA, Mr Gambo Ahmed and Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh during the Opening Ceremony of the 9th Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges by NIMASA held in Lagos, February 19, 2020

The Federal Government has
embarked on measures to ensure a smooth enforcement of the newly enacted anti-piracy
law as part of efforts to stem criminality on Nigerian waters. 

This was
revealed in Lagos at the annual Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges put
together by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and the
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). 

The theme of the
conference was, “Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act,
2019: Key to Accelerating and Achieving Safe and Secure Shipping in Nigeria.”
it was meant to sensitise judicial sector actors on the import of the
anti-piracy law.

Speaking at the opening ceremony,
the Directors-General of NIMASA and NIALS, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Professor
Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan, respectively, emphasised the need for unencumbered
implementation of the law. 

They called for cooperation among the enforcement
agencies, stressing that stringent penalties await maritime criminals in the

Dakuku noted that there was now a
robust framework for the criminalisation and punishment of piracy and other
maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. 

He said the seminar afforded
the Judiciary and the Agency a unique opportunity to dialogue on issues of
mutual importance, particularly, the sensitisation of judges on contemporary
maritime law issues both within and outside the Nigerian jurisdiction.

The seminar was previously meant
for Judges of the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, and High Courts of the
littoral states. But this year, the scope of participation was further enlarged
to include law enforcement agencies.

Dakuku stated, “With the world’s
waters accounting for over 80 per cent of transportation requirements in the
global trading supply chain network across established international routes and
trade lanes, the threats of piracy, armed robbery at sea and other maritime
crimes have been an issue of global concern.

“The Gulf of Guinea, sadly, had
been at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the
incidents recorded in the region. The challenge of maritime insecurity in the
region had been further compounded by a deficit of legislation to address the

He said the SPOMO Act had addressed that challenge.

The Director-General said the
theme of the seminar was carefully selected to facilitate an understanding of
the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act and the collaborative
mechanisms between the Judiciary and enforcement agencies in the implementation
of the Act.

“At the end, it is expected that
there would be enhanced knowledge of participants in areas of the core mandate
of NIMASA, heightened awareness on the provisions of the Suppression of Piracy
and Other Maritime Offences Act and its enforceability, assessment of the
standard operating procedures in tackling maritime crimes and the gaps and
options for improvement and reform,” he stated.

On his part, the Director-General
of NIALS, Ladan, said with the Nigerian economy generating more than 70 per
cent of seaborne trade in West Africa, the country and region will prosper if
the seas were safe for investment and commerce.

According to Ladan, “Through this
strategic maritime law seminar, we wish to enhance the capacity of, and remind
our, Justice sector actors that we will all prosper when the seas around us are
safe, secure and free for all to use and exploit natural resources, promote
trade and investment, tourism, marine science and technology, maritime
transport, infrastructure development, and fisheries.”

He said, “Through this seminar we
hope to build greater understanding of the common challenges of maritime safety
and security and how the SPOMO Act 2019 seeks to promote synergy among justice
sector actors (judges, prosecutors, anti-corruption agencies, security and law
enforcement agencies) to effectively respond to the multiple challenges earlier
President Muhammadu Buhari had signed
the SPOMO Act into law on June 24, 2019.

 The law aims to tackle the menace of
piracy and armed robbery on the country’s waters and exclusive economic zone
with a strong and specific legal instrument that prescribes punishment for
offenders and deters criminal elements. It is the first standalone antipiracy
law in the Gulf of Guinea region.

The Act prescribes jail terms of
between 15 years and life, and fines from N50 million to N500 million for
individuals and corporate organisations convicted for maritime offences.

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