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Judge Tasks FG On Maritime Policies

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The Administrator, National Ju
dicial Institute, Justice Umaru Eri, has urged the Federal Government to establish an integrated and coordinated maritime system to ensure sustainable development of the sector.
Eri made the call recently in Abuja at the opening of the 13th Maritime Seminar for Judges, organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in collaboration with the institute.
He said that a coordinated approach to maritime policies would ensure integrated management of coastal zone, including port development and protection of marine resources.
“The enforcement of relevant laws and rules are essential for the implementation of sustainable development policies in the maritime sector.
“And it is in this regard that the judiciary plays vital role in the interpretation and enforcement of these legislation,’’ he said.
Eri advised that maritime policies should be in tandem with laws of the sector, stating that maritime laws formed part of the oldest system of laws “because seaborne transport was the earliest channel of commerce”.
According to him, the rules for resolving disputes involving maritime matters are developed early in recorded history.
He explained that since no country had jurisdiction over the high sea, it became necessary for nations to reach agreement regarding ways of dealing with ships, crews and cargoes when disputes arose.
The Chairman, NJI’s Committee on Maritime Seminar, Justice Ibrahim Auta, commended the council for its effort at standardising port operations in the country.
Auta, who is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, said the council’s current effort at sanitising the sea ports would enhance port security and reduce the number of people without genuine business at the ports.
He said that the seminar had attained international status, with participants coming from different parts of the world and commended the council for the effort.
He said the seminar would update the knowledge of judges of superior courts on records, maritime law practitioners and stakeholders in the industry about international laws and conventions.
“The seminar has indirectly provided a very strong platform for continuing education of judges among all strata of courts in Nigeria in line with the vision of National Judicial Institute,” he said.
He urged the participants to review and discuss critical and topical issues on maritime industry in the country.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, called for professional development and continued legal education in the nation’s judiciary.
Adoke said that judges needed specialised training in diverse areas of laws that came before them for adjudication.
The minister said that maritime law, around which the seminar was organised, was one of the specialised areas of law which required constant training and retraining.
Adoke said that retraining judges would help in keeping pace with the constant changes and developments in the shipping industry.
“Without the requisite knowledge and training, judges may become susceptible to manipulation and misdirection by experts.
“The near absence of special courts and experience in dealing with such specialised issues makes seminars such as this maritime seminar compelling,’’ Adoke said.
The Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, said the seminar had over the years contributed immensely in influencing policy direction of government in shipping and transport industry.
Umar said this had led to domestication of important maritime conventions.
He said the port reform programme which resulted in concession of the ports brought steady efficiency in terms of cargo delivery as well as competitiveness.

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Estate Surveyors Reject Housing Deficit Report

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The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has disagreed with the report of housing deficit in Nigeria, insisting that there is no proof to justify the report.
The institution also corroborated the assertion of the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, that Nigeria does not have a 17 million housing deficit.
A recent report had indicated that there are 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria. 
President of NIESV, Emma OkasWike, who faulted the report in an interaction with newsmen, Monday, said the body was in full agreement with the minister’s statement and position on the matter. 
“We are in total agreement with the minister on the unreliability of the 17 million housing deficit being brandished in Nigeria for lacking scientific proof.
“We are using this opportunity to reaffirm the importance of data bank and our commitment to the provision of a property data bank for all state capitals and major cities in Nigeria”, NIESV president said.
Wike, however, agreed that there are more demands in housing sector due to mass movement from rural areas to urban centres, adding that when demand exceeds supply, there will be scarcity. 
He said that the solution to the problem lies in having accurate data of empty houses in the cities, which could assist in further planning.
The NIESV president hinted that his institution had been challenged to come up with accurate data on the housing issue, pointing out that such data would help solving the housing problem.
“We have laws in this country, and law is not the problem; it is not enough to say repeal the law, but the implementation is the problem.
“The communities fighting over land, resulted in enacting the Land Use Act, and every section of the Land Use Act has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. The administration of the law is the problem we have in this country, but not the law perse”, he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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FG To Shut Ikorodu Terminal Over Explosive Overtime Cargoes

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Strong indications have emerged that the Federal Government may shut down the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos over the recent alarm raised by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) on some explosive overtime cargoes.
Members of the Governing Board, NPA, had recently expressed worries over some overtime cargoes that have been abandoned for over 44 years at the facility, even as they called on management of the Nigeria Customs Service to expedite actions to evacuate some of the detained consignments.
Speaking with our correspondent recently on the next line of actions by the NPA Board in furtherance to the evacuation of the dangerous cargoes, one of the board members, Hon. Ghazali Mohammed Mijinyawa, said government might shut down the facility due to high risk involved.
The board member reiterated that the explosive cargoes pose serious threat to the facility and the nation, adding that it would be wise for government to shut down the terminal and give rooms for the evacuation of such items.
According to him, the executive board of NPA will hold a retreat to determine the next line of actions on Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos.
“The executive management would have a retreat and I wouldn’t tell you what the retreat is all about but in two weeks time, we are going to shut the port terminal at Ikorodu and that is what we are going to do”, he reaffirmed.
On the issue of revoking the licenses of some terminal operators,  Mijinyawa said plans were afoot to review the port concession agreement in order to be fair to all parties involved in the process of renewal.
Mijinyawa who is also the chairman, Seaport Concession, NPA, pointed out that the terminal operators had testified that NPA was committed to the concession agreement and would further ensure fair play to all parties involved in the renewal process.
He said, “We have to sit down and have a review of everything and of course if there are those worthy of renewal we just have to give them that opportunity but for the ones that have defaulted, it is better you find out why they default before any necessary actions because you just have to strike a balance.
“It’s not a matter of I am not going to renew the agreement but to find out why are they not functioning properly. Is it because of the Covid? Is it the NPA defaulting? Is it them defaulting? So, you just have to go through the documents and see for yourself before you make a judgment of that; so that we can be fair to all parties”.
 According to him, the terminal operators appreciated the efforts of the NPA on the working relationship between stakeholders as against the backdrop of port operations since 2006.

By: NkpemenyieMcdominic, Lagos

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CBN Not Supporting Solid Minerals Dev  – Minister

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The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, DrUche Ogah, has alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not been supporting the development of the mines and solid mineral sector in the country. 
The minister made the allegation at a two-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
The forum was aimed at getting inputs of stakeholders to the contents of four bills on how to achieve rapid development of the solid minerals sector.
The bills are Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021, Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021, Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, and the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021.
The panel is also expected to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Ogah said, “It is unfortunate that the Central Bank of Nigeria did not believe in us. If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.
“This is one ministry that is untapped, that is unknown, that can change the landscape of our revenue.”
The minister said there was need to support research for growth of the sector.
According to him, “Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector”.
Ogah urged citizens to be involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector.

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