250 NIGERIAN SEAFARERS LANGUISH IN PRISON

Mr Ambrose Okehi, publisher Emperor Newspaper poses with Dr Chukwuemeka Enebeli, National President Association for Shipping, Petroleum and Freight Logistics of Nigeria (ASPFLN) Dr Enebeli as later is being interviewed by newsmen just after Tuesday's Serminar

***Accuses Navy of Arrests Without Judicial Process

By Ambrose

Mr Ambrose Okehi, publisher Emperor Newspaper poses with Dr Chukwuemeka Enebeli, National President Association for Shipping, Petroleum and Freight Logistics of Nigeria (ASPFLN) Dr Enebeli as later is being interviewed by newsmen just after Tuesday’s Serminar
Okehi

Over 250 Nigerian seafarers are alleged to have been held and languishing in various prison yards across the nation.

The arrests of Nigerian born  seafarers said to be indiscriminately going on in the Nigerian Navy without them following normal judicial processes.

This was disclosed by the National President of Association for Shipping Petroleum and Freight Logistics of Nigeria (ASPFLN), Dr. Chukwuemeka Enebeli while speaking at a one-day seminar on ”Local Content Development in Shipping, Oil and Gas Logistics Operations in Nigeria” put together by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) held at Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos on Tuesday.
”Over 250 Nigerian seafarers are in prison as we are talking arrested by the Nigerian Navy without following judicial process. There is one form of litigation or the other at court of competent jurisdictions.”

For him and his group, Dr. Enebeli said, ”I repeat again, what we are telling Nigerian Navy is to follow judicial process. That is what we are talking about. Follow judicial process when carrying out such arrests.
”It is against section 22 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is what President Muhammadu Buhari is preaching.”

On the allegation by shipowners that some of their ships arrested in the time past got missing, Enebeli who is also the National President of Nigerian Licensed Ship Chandlers Association said: ”If you look at the Merchant Shipping Act 2007, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO’s) Conventions and Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) status, you will see that these status both local and international explain the power the military and seafarers as the master of the vessel. The master of the vessel is the sole representative of the shipowner. He is in full charge. He is in charge of the vessel. He is the captain of ship. He is the  representative of the owner and takes full charge of the ship and what happens to it. The shipowners will not sit in his house and know the direction of the ship captain. If the captain of the vessel has a right, international right, a constitutional right to refuse a voyage. If there is criminal tendencies against the vessel, he has the right to stop such voyage.
”It is not about the shipowner or the charterer. He is the one, the captain of the vessel. He has the right to do that. He should be held responsible. It is the duty of the master of the vessel, the captain of the ship not an issue of the owner of the ship. He has the right to say, yes or No I am not going on this voyage. He is going to be held accountable for that because when he is onboard a ship, he has absolute and commercial  control of the ship.”

On the porosity of the nation’s territorial waters and if the Nigerian Navy is not capable of fighting piracy in our waters, Enebeli has this to say: ”We in the Nigerian Content Shipping Forum (NCSF), we have patient in answering such question. Why? It is simple, remove the buearucracy. Remove the status buaerucratcy  hurdles. We cannot have two bodies with independent status and independent punishment. That means that Nigerian practitioners are under hunt by these various status. That is one. Two, the countries in the Golf of Geanue, West African subregion, East Africa and partly South Africans are heavily dependant on Nigeria because of our strategic position and population explosion. We are not competing well.
Nigeria is not even the hub as she supposed to be within the
West and Central Africa subregion. There is this proliferation of these status and so on.
And when the operations are not free, when the operations cannot free you, you are going to be constrained. We are saying, remove the constrains and you remove the criminalities. We are not saying that Togo, Republic of Benin, that share borders with Nigeria, that they are threat to Nigeria. We are not saying that
Cameroon is a threat to Nigeria. Such countries like Gabon and others are not threat to Nigeria.
On Navy and security of the nation’s waterways, he maintained that: ”So when we spend money to pursue pirates. The money we are spending on Navy budget just to pursue offenders. If we look at it, who are being pursued? They are pursuing Nigerians. The regulatory body which is And the regulatory agency which is NIMASA, they are nowhere. So what is the point of saying that you are going to be hunting commercial shipping.
So what does the law says about military, including international status over this in Nigeria? This international laws and conventions must be applied here in this country and Nigeria cannot be exception.
What we are saying in essence is that Nigeria Navy should follow judicial process while arresting merchant shipping. But for me, you remove, you will see that Nigerians are not criminals.”

On whether another of his group, the Nigeria Content Shipping Forum (NCSF) has anything to do with NLCDMB, Dr. Enebeli however, said: ”The Nigeria Content Shipping Forum (NCSF) just a mere advocacy group. We will not want to consign ourselves to just one aspect operation. I have said here that many cook spoils a pudgy.
The essence of the National Assembly is to conceptualise the various bills, conventions that would metamorphose to Acts. Because Nigerians are prostrate. Now these things. Now these things are under implementation. For 25 years as a regulatory agency (1987-2018 from National Maritime Authority NMA now NIMASA), can NIMASA do an audit of its achievements that one can see visibly?
For eight years of its existence, can NLCDMB do an audit of its achievements that we can see?, Enebeli queried.

He therefore concluded that the essence of creating these agencies have been defeated: ”Meanwhile, you can see that abini tio they wouldn’t have created these agencies. What purpose are they serving? They are only serving the purposes of the staff of these various agencies, not enterprenuers, not the beaurucrats, not the practitioners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *