JONAS EZIEKE, Abuja
The Minister of Transport Mr Rotimi Amaechi, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Nigeria Shippers Council and Ship Owners Association of Nigeria SOAN and other maritime stakeholders have kicked against the proposed Maritime Security Agency.
The stakeholders made their position known during one day public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration on a bill seeking to establish the Maritime Security Agency at the National Assembly.
The Bill was entitled ‘ A Bill for an Act to Establish the Maritime Security Agency to Promote Maritme Security and Provide Among Other Things the Security and Safety Information and Communication Facilities for all Categories of Users of Nigeria Maritime Industry and for Related Matters’.
The Minister of Transportation Mr Rotimi Amaechi who was represented by Mallam Shehu Aliyu a Director in the Ministry said that the establishment of the Maritime Security Agency as proposed in the bill will amount to duplication of functions of existing security agencies.
He noted that establishment of an agency identical to that of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA would stultify the growth of the maritime industry in Nigeria.The Minister said that rather than creating the agency, what ought to be done is to amend the NIMASA Act and strengthen and empower the agency to provide effective maintenance of security in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
Moreover, the Director-General of NIMASA Dr Dakuku Peterside said the bill is a duplication of the the functions of the agency and added that the security functions of the agency is listed under section 23 of the NIMASA Act.He hinted that the duplication of the functions of the agency is unnecessary and would lead to unhealthy competition amongst existing security agencies in the maritime sector.
Similarly, the Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Ibokete Ekwe Ibas who was represented by Rear Admiral Bee Ibe-Enwo said the bill to establish the Maritime Security Agency should be thrown overboard as the Nigerian Navy is capable of securing the Nigerian territorial waters.He stated that the craters of the bill were purely on a mission to usurp the powers of the security agencies in the maritime sector particularly the Nigerian Navy which has adequate powers to man the territorial waters of Nigeria.
Other invited stakeholders at the hearing notably the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Labour Congress NLC said the creation of the agency is unnecessary as it would duplicate the functions of the Nigerian Navy and other agencies.
Chairman of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria Captain Ladijo said aside not being good for enough for commerce to thrive also be against constitutional provisions.Some sections of the proposed bill provides for the payment of 3% of all incomes by seafarers from incoming and outgoing cargoes and vessels in all Nigerian territorial waters.
Chairman of the the House Committee who Hon. Umar Balgo however assured the stakeholders that the Committee would be resolute in its drive to provide an enabling environment backed by law for the growth and sustenance of the sector.
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