Frontline maritime lawyer, Folake Akinmoladun has said that Nigeria does not have indigenous maritime lawyers to represent her in international maritime space and to argue in favor of Nigeria whenever regulations are being made.
Akinmoladun who spoke at a recent event in Lagos argued that majority of the lawyers that help Nigeria in matters of international shipping regulations are not Nigerians, they are mostly the Europeans or Americans. She that this is largely responsible for the lack of implementation of most international maritime laws and conventions in Nigeria.
She noted that the European and American lawyers speaking for Nigeria do not understand the dynamics of things that happen in Nigeria, the maritime environment and the peculiar conditions at which her indigenous shipowners operate.
“International laws is a body of laws that countries have agreed would guide their activities, so, as far as maritime is concerned, we have the United State Convention of Law of the Seas which is the main law, and there are other international conventions”
“The international maritime organization (IMO) monitors how nations keep to these international laws”
“Nigeria needs more maritime lawyers in the international space, we need them to be able to say that, in this international regulation, this is how it would affect Nigeria.More so, majority of the lawyers that help with the regulations are not Nigerians, they are mostly the Europeans or Americans who so not understand the dynamics of things that happen in Nigeria”
She added that “Nigeria does not have many ships, but we have many cargo owners, what this means for us is that as we grow older, people will continue to need things, Nigeria would always export oil, and continue to need goods and services from other countries”
Akinmoladun described Nigeria as a country blessed with long coastline which has not been put to use.
She described Ondo State as having the longest coastline but that there is no activities. She argued that the Ondo state government needs political will in order to be able to develop its proposed deep-sea port.
“Fortunately I am from Ondo State and I can tell you that we have been hoping for maritime activities to be happening in the State, but we need the political will to be able to make it happen”
“When you have a sea line that is so long like that, it is an asset, some countries are begging for it, they don’t even have water at all; most African countries are completely landlocked.So, if we are able to develop our sea line, we would actually be able to earn foreign exchange”