By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are fresh indications that the International Maritime Organisations (IMO) is set to prevail on twenty five countries in West and Central Africa on the need to adopt the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, a law passed by Nigeria in 2019 to fight maritime crimes.
The SPOMO Act, developed by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would now enable trial of piracy cases within the African sub-region irrespective of whichever country the crime was committed.
This indication was given when the Minister of Transportation, Eng Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, received the Secretary General, Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) Dr. Paul Adalikwu at the Ministry.
Mu’azu also encouraged the Secretary General, to leverage on MOWCA as a regional body to push for Nigeria’s intent of becoming member of Category C in the IMO.
The minister expressed the hope that within 90 days the Ministry will be able to secure accommodation to enable the take off of the Regional Maritime Development Bank .
According to Mu’azu, “When i resumed here, i realised immediately that the Regional Maritime Bank is one of the lowest hanging fruits that we can achieve within a very very short time. Infact 90 days is too long”.
Furthermore, he observed that all efforts towards getting accommodation via the Central Bank of Nigeria has not yielded any outcomes, so he will approach the Attorney General of the Federation to see if one of the forfeited properties can be allocated to the bank.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, commended Dr. Adalikwu, on the forthcoming regional meeting scheduled for Abuja in November, 2022, where the Secretary General of IMO, Kitlack Lim, will seek to prevail on the 25 member States to adopt the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, to enable trial of piracy cases within the MOWCA sub-region irrespective of whichever sub-region the crime was committed.
Speaking earlier, the Secretary General of MOWCA, Dr. Paul Adalikwu, stated that the idea of a Regional Maritime Development bank , RMDB, was conceived 11 years ago to facilitate single digit interest loans to provide leeway to key players in the sector and enable them compete favourably with their international counterparts.
According to Adalikwu, “8 countries have signed the Charter as required in the document establishing the bank. Two weeks ago, DRC Congo also signed making it 9 countries. One above the threshold required for the establishment of the Act”.
Speaking further, he informed that the organogram of RMDB as adopted by council members had positions of President of the body, Company Secretary and a seat on the board ceded to Nigeria while Cameroun is to produce the Vice President 1, and Ivory Coast, Vice President 2, adding that other members countries are to provide board members for the Maritime bank.
The meeting had in attendance the Minister of State for Transportation,
Prince Ademola Adewole Adegoroye, Director, Maritime Services, Babatunde Bombata, Deputy Director, Cabotage & Shipping, Rita Zoaka and others.