…Laments 7 Seafarers Wrongly Sentenced to Jail for 12-Years
By DAPO OLAWUNI
A seafarers advocacy group under the aegis of Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO) has inaugurated a new set of executives to pilot the affairs of the forum for the year 2022-2023.
At the inauguration which took place on May 1st 2022, the forum through its new National President, Capt Segun Akanbi noted that the group became a child of neccesity when on the 30th, October 2015, Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Lagos convicted and sentenced 7 Seafarers of various ranks to 12 Years Imprisonment each for dealing in Petroleum products.
He said that the judgement at that time was passed without obtaining lawful authority because the Ship Management who controls licenses and trading authorizations were left untouched.
According to him, the case and judgement lacks adequate and genuine representation of the Seafarers, which lead to the coming together of likeminds including Capt. Akanbi Oluwasegun, Engr. Damilola Awofodu, Officer Tayo Bello and others to facilitate an Appeal of the case and provide urgent support to the rescue of the affected Seafarers.
“Some of the supposed existing Maritime bodies were approached to seek their intervention, but unfortunately, none of them showed positive interest.
“During the pursuit for the Freedom of the poor crew, We were able to identify various gaps between the Governing bodies and the Seafarers.
“We were able to identify how vulnerable we are as Seafarers, we discovered various loopholes in the Maritime sector regarding Seafarers’ representation.
“Hence, the Creation of Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO) in November 2015.
“MARPRO became a legal entity on the 22nd of May, 2019. Under the Chairmanship of the Board of Trustees Capt. Fola Ojutalayo” he stated
Apart from the MARPRO President, Capt Segun Akanbi, other officers who emerged are; Awofodu Damilola as Vice President, Oyedeji Joshua as Alternate Vice President,
Oduyale Abdulazeez is the General Secretary.
Assistant General Secretary is
Eraga Basil, Financial Secretary of the group is Ayeni Bukola, Assistant Financial Secretary is Ghomorai William while Treasurer of the group is Adebayo Yusuf
Others are; Asst. Treasurer
Valk Kenneth, Welfare Officer is Sideso Omamurhomu, Asst. Welfare Officer is Olorunfemi Ishola, Social Director is Olaniyi Ishola, Asst. Social Director is Wilson Shaibu.
Provost Mashals are; Tayo Bello 1
Damilola Akintunji 2
Agege Solomon 3.
Lead Public Relations Officer is
Ayotunde Lawal, while Public Relations Officers are; Sandra Iwu 1
Adam Okon 2.
Capt Akanbi stated that ever since the creation of MARPRO, the group has held on to her primary concerns and visions including engaging leading legal structures to protect the interests of Maritime Professionals whenever required.
Others include “Establishing an interface between the Seafarers and the general public. For adequate representation.
“Affiliation of the Seafarers to the social and welfare arm of the central authority.
“Arranging of thematic conferences and workshops with involvement of officially responsible heads of public authorities.
“Providing aids to the Government and relevant authorities to sanitise the maritime sector.
“Providing legal and financial assistance to the families of seafarers in distress.
“Conducting annual rating of achievements and awarding of Nigeria Seafarers.
According to him, the achievements of MARPRO so far includes;
1. Providing financial and legal supports for Seafarers in Ikoyi prison.
2. Represented the Nigerian Seafarers at various conferences and debates.
3. Advocates for female participations and fight against gender discriminations.
4. Partnership with the Public Advice Center under the Ministry of Justice to seek justice for Seafarers in distress.
5. Various campaigns on Seafarers welfare during COVID-19 pandemic And lot more.
“We are at a time when the importance of having a strong and formidable representation for seafarers cannot be overemphasised.
“In MARPRO, we represent Integrity, Quality Professionalism, and Standard work ethics to compete with international best practices.
“We hope that in the nearest future, Nigeria will take her rightful place in the comity of Nations with a large pool of Competent and Formidable Seafarers” he said