Worried over the militarization of commercial shipping in Nigeria by the armed forces, a group, the Concerned Maritime Operators in Nigeria (CMON) has called for the immediate halt to the act.
To end the militarisation, the group said it has commenced mobilization of stakeholders for mass action against the apparent hijack of the country’s maritime administration by the armed forces.
Its main concern is the introduction into the nation’s shipping industry strange laws like those of the Maritime Operation Coordinating Board Act (1992) Section 4a (1, 11, &4) of the Armed Forces Act (Navy) 1994, and Harmonized Standard Operating Procedures on arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessel and Person in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment 2016 (HSOP).
The CMON is made up of various associations in the maritime industry, major indigenous shipping companies and elite stakeholders in the sector in Nigeria.
After rising from a stakeholders’ meeting in Apapa, Lagos, recently, CMON had resolved to write all operators, regulators and stakeholders in the industry in Nigeria about the militarization acts and sections of laws supporting it.
In a July 28, 2017 statement by its Coordinating Secretary, Mazi Anabaraonye Ifechukwu Joseph and the Legal Adviser, Barrister David Ehimari Akhalu, the group stated that the section had militarized Nigeria’s maritime industry; hence making Navy the apex regulatory, policy-making and enforcement body to execute the totality of all international maritime regulations and conventions as well as national laws and regulations concerning maritime.
CMON described the development as totally “an aberration to democratic principles, rule of law and the spirit of separation of powers”.
The group further stated that its call was aimed at ensuring that “we have a common front to pursue the repeal of Maritime Operation Commercial Board Act and expunging of section 4a (1, 11 & IV) from the Armed Forces”.