The anti-piracy bill brings hope that anti-piracy bill will bring and end to Nigerian piracy and strengthen the blue economy.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has reported, that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has given his assent to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill, 2019, in an unprecedented move billed to bring a dramatic improvement in security on the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. The Presidential assent dated June 24, 2019 followed the passage of the bill by the Senate and House of Representatives on April 9, 2019 and April 30, 2019, respectively.
The bill passed by the Eighth National Assembly gives effect to the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982, and the International Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Navigation (SUA), 1988, and its Protocols.
NIMASA had facilitated the drafting of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill in 2012, in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). It was in a bid to give further credence to the relevant international treaties of the United Nations (UN) and IMO ratified by Nigeria on maritime safety and security and provide a much-needed legal and institutional framework for the country – through its maritime security enforcement agencies: the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA – to ensure safe and secure shipping on Nigerian waters, and prosecute infractions.
Besides addressing maritime insecurity, the new law, very importantly, fulfills the international requirement for standalone legislation on piracy, as against the approach of using the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Amendment Bill to criminalise piracy.
On the occasion of the passing of the bill, BIMCO's Head of Maritime Security Jakob P. Larsen said: "The new Nigerian anti-piracy bill is a step in the right direction on the path to eradicating Nigerian piracy. With this cornerstone legislation now in place, the scene is set for focused law enforcement against Nigerian pirates."
Commenting on the scale and nature of the Nigerian piracy problem, Larsen said: "Nigerian piracy originates from and takes place in a relatively small area, and is perpetrated by a fairly small number of criminals. Nigeria holds the key to solving this problem, and it can be done quickly, even more so if Nigeria exercises statesmanship and partner with international navies."