The Nigerian Navy has urged the National Assembly to speed up the passage of the anti-piracy bill into law in a bid to end the menace which is sabotaging the country’s economy.
The Navy made the call at an Inter-Agency corporation seminar organised by the Naval War College, Nigeria to discuss the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessels & Persons in Nigeria Maritime Environment with the theme: ‘Combating smuggling through inter-agency cooperation.’
Speaking with journalists after the seminar in Calabar on Wednesday, the guest lecturer and representative of the Nigerian Navy in the stakeholders forum, Olukoya Bamidele, said piracy had become a big issue and the legal lacuna made it almost impossible to stop the menace as perpetrators go free because there were no laws to prosecute them.
He said, ”Piracy is a serious issue. In Bonny area alone this year, we have recorded several attacks and arrests have been made but our major challenge is prosecution. The bill developed and submitted by Nigeria Maritime Administration & Safety Agency on combating and prosecuting offenders is in its second reading at the National Assembly.
“We hope that the Ninth Legislative Assembly will pass the bill into law so that we can prosecute offenders, as this will deter and serve as warning to others who have the intention of going into the illicit trade to desist from such.
“For now the people in custody cannot be tried, they can’t be prosecuted under our laws, yet so many arrests are being made but no prosecution. As of today there is no law in Nigeria that you can use to prosecute a pirate.”
He called on the incoming 9th legislative assembly to expedite action on the menace of piracy in the bud by passing the bill sent in by NIMASA into law without delay in order to save the country from loss of huge revenue.
Speaking earlier, Rear Admiral Adeseye Ayobanjo, Commandant Naval War College, Nigeria, called for collaborative inter- agency cooperation among security agencies and other stakeholders in the maritime sector.
He said that synergy was a pivotal tool in tackling all forms of illegal activities in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
“The Naval War College was established for effective operational level in warfare and the seminar is focused on how best we can implement the document of the Federal Government to guide stakeholders on how best to tackle security and sundry issue in the maritime space.
“The aim is to create a platform where all stakeholders including the Police, Directorate of State Services, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Navy and others can discuss the best ways of tackling security challenges by expressing its views on how best to implement the document with the view of making our maritime space safer, “ he said.