AGF seeks amendment to maritime laws
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) has urged the National Assembly to amend maritime laws to allow private guards carry arms onboard vessels.
Speaking at the Lagos International Maritime Week and exhibition hosted by Zoe Maritime Resources Limited in Lagos yesterday, the AGF said it was not lawful for armed guards to carry guns onboard merchant ships.
Represented by Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Financial Crimes, Biodun Aikomu, the AGF called on maritime stakeholders to rally round the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in order to take advantage of existing relationship between NIMASA and the Navy.
He said: “Maritime security has become an important requirement for merchant vessels over the last decade due to the increased threats from pirates across the world. The issue of maritime security in the Nigerian territorial waters is one that should be taken very seriously; human beings have the responsibility for self-preservation of lives and limbs, and by extension, private properties and investments.
“As to the legality or illegality of armed guards on merchant vessels in Nigeria, the debate should no longer be based on whether armed guards should be employed but rather how they can effectively, legally and safely be engaged, with the emphasis on accreditation and accountability.
“Even though Nigerian flagged vessels cannot make use of armed private security guards as the Law stands today, the reality is that there must be a dynamic strategy of dealing with the security challenges facing Merchant Vessels in the Nigerian waters.
“It may be necessary to amend the relevant laws in the long terms but in the meantime, stakeholders should develop a strategy to deal with the challenge within the permissible scope of powers of NlMASA in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and Marine Police.”
Also speaking, the Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye lamented the inadequacy of maritime infrastructures in Nigeria which she said has largely reduced the country’s ability to harness the full potentials inherent in her maritime industry.
She said: “In order to benefit from the inherent wealth of the maritime sector, it behooves on us as government and people to commit our resources towards the development of requisite infrastructure for the sector.”
Oladunjoye called for investments in ports and terminals, cargo handling equipment, channels and harbors, warehouses, vessel repair and ship building yards, port access roads, inter-modal transport, ICT, deep seaport, power and water.
In her welcome address, convener of the event, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo Emore said the introduction of the youth to the maritime industry is key to the long term development of maritime manpower in Africa.
The theme of the event was: ‘Developing Maritime Infrastructure in Africa’.
She said the Lagos Maritime Week is an event that brings together maritime stakeholders from around the globe to deliberate on concurrent challenges that face the industry, network and proffer solutions.
Source: The Nation