President Muhammadu Buhari has accented to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Defence Bill, as well as the Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria Bill, alongside seven other bills, even as he rejected 17 bills passed by the 8th National Assembly.
The other Bills also accented to were the Police Trust Fund Act, Nigeria Natural Medicine Establishment Act, FCT Management Board and Health Insurance, National Institute of Construction Technology and Management (Establishment) bill, National Agricultural Seed Council bill, Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment), and FCT Primary Healthcare Board.
The Senior Special Assistant to President (Senate), Sen.Ita Enag disclosed this to journalists at a news conference on Wednesday in Abuja, noting that the Buhari decided not to communicate to the 9th Assembly on the rejection of the bills because it could not take any decision on the rejected bills.
Enag however, promised to engage the leadership of both chambers on the rationale behind the rejections of those bills, adding that the current National Assembly could not take action to override them because the law forbade the lawmakers to do so.
He listed the bills denied assent as: Adeyemi Federal University of Education (Establishment) Bill, Federal University of Education Kano, Bill, Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education Bill, Federal University of Education Zaria, Bill, National Security Agencies, Protection of Officers Identity Bill, Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency Bill, and Environmental Managers Registration Council of Nigeria Bill.
Others were: Industrial Development Income Tax Act Amendment Bill, Defence Research and Development Bureau Bill, Animal Diseases Control Bill, Good Samaritans Bill, Chattered Institute of Directors of Nigeria Bill, National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Establishment Bill and Federal University of Wukari (Establishment) Bill.
Warehouse Receipt and Other Related Matters Bill, Federal Capital Territory Health Insurance Agency Bill, Nigeria Automative Industry Development Plant Fiscal Incentives and Guarantees Bill, Nigerian Film Commission Bill and Proceeds of Crime Bill.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, on the heel of President Buhari’s assent to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill, 2019, popularly called the Anti-piracy Act commended the President’s gesture, stressing that the billed would bring a “dramatic improvement” in an unprecedented move, to security of the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.
“It marks the dawn of a great moment for world maritime”, emphasized Dakuku.
An elated Director General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside saw the Presidential assent dated June 24, 2019 following the passage of the bill by the Senate and House of Representatives on April 9, 2019 and April 30, 2019, respectively, as powering the Agency to meet the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982, and the International Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Navigation (SUA), 1988, and its Protocols.
“The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had facilitated the drafting of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill in 2012, in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). It was in a bid to give further credence to the relevant international treaties of the United Nations (UN) and IMO ratified by Nigeria on maritime safety and security and provide a much-needed legal and institutional framework for the country – through its maritime security enforcement agencies: the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA – to ensure safe and secure shipping on Nigerian waters, and prosecute infractions.
“Besides addressing maritime insecurity, the new law, very importantly, fulfills the international requirement for standalone legislation on piracy, as against the approach of using the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Amendment Bill to criminalise piracy.
“With the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act, Nigeria has officially become the first country in the West and Central African Sub-Region to promulgate a separate law against piracy, an important international requirement set by the IMO as part of measures to guarantee secure global shipping.
Dakuku said further: “This is not just a victory for NIMASA, but also for all the stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime community. We are determined to continue to deliver on our promise to investors and the international community to ensure an increasingly safer and more secure environment for profitable maritime business.
“And the new law at this very critical stage of our Blue Economy drive is certainly an elixir that will boost our capacity to harness the rich potential of our seas and oceans.”
The NIMASA DG thanked the President for “his commitment and passion for measures that will guarantee safety and security on Nigerian waters.” He also appreciated the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for their support. Dakuku assured that the Agency will continue to work with relevant partners and organisations to achieve its aim of ridding the country’s waterways and exclusive economic zone of criminal activities.
“No man is an island; hence NIMASA cannot achieve much without the support of other stakeholders. This is the time we all need to work more closely together, so that we don’t give room to criminals to have their way in our maritime domain,” he added.
Some of the significant provisions of the Act include a distinct definition of piracy and other maritime offences/unlawful acts; punishment upon conviction for maritime crimes; restitution to owners of violated maritime assets or forfeiture of proceeds of maritime crime to the Federal Government; and establishment of a Piracy and Maritime Offences Fund with prescribed sources of funding that will be utilised in the implementation of the Act.
The new law also vests exclusive jurisdiction for the determination of matters under the Act on the Federal High Court. It empowers relevant authorities mentioned under the Act to seize vessels or aircraft used for maritime crimes anywhere in Nigeria and in international waters or in the jurisdiction of any country where the ship is reasonably believed to be a pirate-controlled ship or aircraft