The Nigerian Senate has commenced a public investigation hearing into the crisis over the control of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) in the Lagos seaport between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Ocean Marine Services Limited (OMSL).
It would be recalled that the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, a couple of weeks back, ordered OMSL to stop provision of security and safety services for all ocean-going vessels that stop within the SAA, noting that only NPA is mandated by the law to provide such service as the area is under its jurisdiction – pilotage area. NPA went ahead to inform all shipping lines not to patronise OMSL and stop payment of all fees.
Reacting to the NPA’s order, OMSL noted that it is not answerable to NPA but to the Nigerian Navy who controls the nation’s sea and mandated it to provide safety and security services for vessels that stop within the SAA, which is not in the Lagos pilotage area as being claimed by the NPA. OMSL added that on this premise NPA does not have power to stop its operations in the SAA.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Nigerian Navy, Senator George Sekibo, who also chairs the joint committee, noted that the Senate waded into the matter because of the attendant tussle it has generated among stakeholders particularly between NPA and OMSL and the need for the Senate to conduct the investigation to avert any possible breakdown of law on the seas which it may cause.
The hearing began today, Tuesday, November 26, 2019 and the following organizations – Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Marine Police – appeared before the joint committee.
Tomorrow Wednesday November 27, the following organizations Federal Ministry of Transportation, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and Ship Owners Association of Nigeria will appear before the committee.
On Thursday, 28th November, Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigerian Navy and Ocean Marine Services Limited (OMSL) will appear before the investigative panel.
Also the Senate Joint Committee has requested for memorandum from key stakeholders to help it do further investigation on the activities of OMLS in the SAA.
The key stakeholders are Nigerian Ports Authority, Federal Ministry of Transportation, OMSL, NIMASA, Marine Police, NAGAFF, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Shippers Council and Nigerian Navy.