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Maritime seminar for judges turns window of revelation

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The 13th maritime seminar for judges, organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) was unique in all ramifications. Apart from replenishing the belief that the nation’s maritime sector required a perfect blend of maritime law adjudication and application, it left different taste in the mouth of participants.
To the bar and the bench, it was another opportunity to refresh, replenish or learn newly unfolding developments. To the maritime operators and major stakeholders, it was an opportunity to grow, strengthen and reinforce the platform for better understanding. However, to the newsmen, the seminar was a window for shocking revelations.

Taking an Eagle eye view of the seminar, a Maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Igbokwe declared it as the wonderful opportunity for boosting interaction between the Bench, the Bar and the other major stakeholders and key maritime players, who must directly or indirectly defend, profess, tinker or adjudicate in respect of maritime laws, some of which are international, or national as they have been domesticated, with their direct bearing on the well being of the country, its economy and its people.

“The first major gain derives from the interaction between the bench, the bar and the other major maritime stakeholders, with its multiplier impact on maritime laws and the economy”, he posited, noting that it also created a strong platform for sensitizing and enlightening all those functioning in the realm of law making, law application to adjudication in respect of international or national laws, with the overall aim of continous improvement on sound knowledge.

Earlier, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alooma Mouktar had utilized the opportunity of the seminar to emphasize the need for maritime laws, not only to foster justice, equity and fairness; but common goals should be attained while the law should be acceptable and affordable. The application of the law must also be made relevant and encompassing in the protection of hardworking stakeholders.

“There have been disturbing reports of pirate attacks on ships in Nigeria waters. But, most of the people involved have been discovered to have entered the country illegally for criminal activities”, she indicated, expressing her joy that the Nigerian Government was, however, leaving no stones unturned, in the process of its statutory mandate to protect the business class from the illegal activities of the deadly few.

Emphasizing the need for collaboration and cooperation between the bar, bench and the maritime operators or experts, the CJN insisted that the law must ensure the creation and sustenance of desired conducive business environment, enabling life to function in the most desirable manners.

“The main purpose of this seminar is to sensitize the judges, to be fully aware of what is expected of them when adjudicating on cases brought before them.

The judiciary must be ready to make justice accept-able and affordable, especially as it is so obvious that no nation can thrive adequately, without a strong legal platform”, The chief justice also stressed the need to foster the growth of the maritime sector, “via the stand-ardization of maritime laws”, in the march towards best practices.

A maritime guru and former President, National Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Captain Ernest Ishola praised the vision and the long term goals of the Seminar, adding that he was satisfied that the organizers were also increasingly pursuing the goals of making the seminar internationally recognized.

“I would say it has helped us to open the eyes of our judges. To be honest with you, what we see in the book was sometimes, not the same thing that we saw in practice. And the fact that the practitioners on the field are also similarly involved in the seminars has impacted positively in the seminar.

“The seminar has enable the judges to realize that you cannot arrest a ship and keep the ship, and the owner would not be losing money; just as the terminal operator too, would be losing money. So, the seminar has enable the judges to know that we can put a bond; or such other alternative means to get that ship working again; and continue to create the desired wealth, for bth the owners, and other relevant stakeholders. So, it has opened the eyes of the judges to the trend of things”, he stated further.

Captain. Ishola however observed that some decisions of the court could nonetheless still remain mysterious, despite the benefits of the seminars, as some court judgment might be delivered on political considerations, and as such stretch beyond the realm of easy understanding.

“You have heard of such statements like ‘my hands are tied’ or such like” he indicated, explaining that it is such issues that the judicial council must assiduously work on and surmount.
But to the newsmen, the seminar provided them with the window to view the different shades, under which different stakeholders perceive same issues. For instance, while the Nigerian law makers see the issue of piracy, as an obsolete event, soon to become a thing of the past, the Ghanaian judiciary, see the issue as a menace presently wrecking havoc, in the Gulf of Guinea .

Delivering a statement from the Senate President at the venue, the Chairman of the Marine Transport Committee, Senator Zainab Kure had highlighted that the National Assembly was glad to note the extent of work it had done in that respect, and was satisfi ed to declare piracy, a development soon to become a thing of the past.

“We have been able to see that some agencies that have to do with the reduction in piracy cases have been able to live up to their responsibility; and that the issue of piracy, as I am speaking with you now is a thing of the past, as far as our coastal waters are concerned”.

The message of goodwill, from the Ghanaian Chief Judge, Georgina Theodora Woods, as read by her representative, Justice Joseph Bawa Akwamba said the claim was far from being real.
Stressing the need for Nigeria to go more extra miles, the Ghanaian CJN task the Federal Government to adopt more measures, including a collaborative front by all relevant agencies within the Gulf of Guinea terrain.
“Well, I heard a very good report that piracy in our waters is about to be declared as non-existent; that certainly would have been great news. But, the interna-tional perspective to this, is that there is now, a shift of maritime crimes from the Suez Canal to the Gulf of Guinea” the Ghana CJN declared, stressing that the development should be a matter of great concern to all, especially to the judges who may from time to time, be called upon to deal with cases emanating from such issues bothering on international crimes.

The revelations at the seminar were shocking as the inadequacies of the executive arm of the government was exposed. The law makers said they are now beg-ging the executive arm of the Government to resubmit some of the executive proposed bills meant to uplift maritime operations, but which only disappeared later, under the guise of wanting to go and fine tune the bills.

The bills included the Port and Harbour Bill, the In-land Waterway Bill and some other transport sector uplifting bills.
“The Minister of transport, I would want to say that the Marine Transport Committee has been looking for those bills that the Federal Executive Council did put some committee to work on. We are extremely waiting for them (bills), so that most of the problems that have some bearing with the port especially, will be a thing of the past”, the Senate President pleaded further, prompt-ing rueful chuckles from the audience.

It would be recalled that early last year, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) appointed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, as chairman of a special committee set up to finetune the proposed bills. But more than one year after, the law makers were now begging for the bill, since the bills are yet to get to the national assembly deeming every hope of their being passed during the life span of the present administration.

Perhaps, it was the Permanent Secretary, Nebolisa Emordi, an engineer, who steered the hornest nest, when he, in the course of statement he read on behalf of the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, had mentioned that the Ministry was still putting finishing touches to the Ports and Harbours Bill, among others, for submission to the National Assembly.

“The Federal Executive Council will soon submit a Bill to the National Assembly, the bills which seek to repeal the Nigerian Ports Authority Act of 1999 and enact the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Act. This Act envisages the provision of ownership, management, operation, development and control of ports and harbours, make the Ports and Harbour Authority the technical regulator and promote private participation,” he had said.

But the disclosure rather than draw applause, it only drew the ire of the Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who quickly chastised the ministry, noting that such action would be nothing more than a duplication of the efforts of the legislators.

“Why is the executive producing another Ports and Harbours Bill when we already have one here at the National Assembly? Are you people not aware that there’s a Ports and Harbours Bill here sponsored by the Deputy Speaker and co-sponsored by me and which has passed second reading in the House? So, is it your own that the Senate will approve or the one sent from the House to the Senate?”

Obviously, the 13th Maritime Seminar for Judges would be long remembered as a sensitization as well as a revelation platform!- International Trade Monitor

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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