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FG to secure Nigeria ownership of maritime industry

By Naomi Douglas

Federal Government is set to sack jobs in the shipping industry dominated by foreigners that own several shipping lines operating in Nigeria.
In its bid to rid the industry of this feat, the FG has reaffirmed Commitment to establish a national shipping line.

inister of state for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, made this known at the 16th International Maritime Seminar for Judges, organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council NSC under the Auspices of Federal Ministry of Transportation in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute NJI on Tuesday in Abuja.

Highlights of the event was hinged on the importance of Nigerian ownership of shipping activities within the country in order to reap the full economic benefits of the maritime sector.

Represented by the Director of Procurement, Useni Adamu, Saraki emphasised the need for capacity building in the maritime industry.

“It is a common knowledge that most of our maritime transportation is conducted by foreign shipowners, thereby limiting the economic benefits accruable to the nation and the sub-region in areas such as creation of jobs, freight and insurance earnings etc” she noted.

The Minister explained that it is in the above regard that the development of a national fleet becomes imperative.

“The present administration is looking into ways of encouraging the establishment of a private sector-driven national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potentials in our maritime industry.

“A Ministerial Committee has been working on this important initiative and I look forward to having their concrete recommendations for immediate implementation” she stated.

While welcoming Judges of Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of Sierra Leone and the Representatives of Supreme Court Judges from Ghana, Kenya and other West African countries, Saraki explained the need for continues engagement with the judiciary in ensuring smooth development of the maritime sector.

“My Lords, the lacuna created by the low penetration level in Maritime Law at the undergraduate levels of our Universities, coupled with the fast pace of development in international trade, exerts a lot of strain on our judicial officers some of whom are confronted with this special area of the law for the first time when Admiralty matters are brought before their courts for adjudication.

“It is therefore commendable that this seminar has created a veritable forum where prominent jurists and legal luminaries come together to rub minds on how to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of our maritime industry, not only through the capacity building of the judicial officers, but indeed also in tackling some of the crucial issues on the front burner of maritime discourse both locally and globally.

“This will no doubt increase the confidence of investors in the industry, since it is obvious that an efficient, lucid, predictable and stable legal system plays a very significant role in attracting investors” the Minister noted.

In his Address, the Acting Chief Judge of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola said the seminar is designed among other things to acquaint participants with emerging trends in the sphere of Admiralty Law and the challenges that digitalisation and globalisation may throw up on the adjudication of admiralty matters.

“I can say without contradiction that Judges who have experienced and participated in this Seminar in the past, have become better equipped with knowledge of rudimentary maritime laws necessary in handling compicx maritime claims/cases”.

In his vote of thanks,, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime said “the task of organizing and maintaining a high quality event like this, is understandably, not an easy one.

It requires enormous commitment, sacrifice, dedication and patriotic duty and responsibility.

“It is therefore in this light that I want to thank the Chairman and members of the International Maritime Seminar for Judges Organizing Committee led by the Honourable, the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice John T. Tsoho for their untiring and priceless work done in putting all this together in spite of the unusual late start of the preparations. May the good Lord bless all of you and the work that you do” added Jime.

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