Nigerian agencies collaborate to enforce anti-piracy law

Patrol boat at sea for maritime law enforcement. Credit: Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency

Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies need to work together if the country’s stringent new anti-piracy legislation is to succeed in curbing crimes at sea.

This year’s Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) in conjunction with Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), focussed on the importance of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act 2019, which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law on 24 June 2019.

The legislation aims to tackle piracy and armed robbery in the country’s waters and exclusive economic zone with strict punishment for offenders. It prescribes jail terms of between 15 years and life, and fines of up to USD1.34 million for individuals and corporate organisations convicted for maritime offences. SPOMO is the first stand-alone anti-piracy law in the Gulf of Guinea region.

Dr. Dakuku Peterside, director-general of NIMASA, said that there was now a robust framework for the criminalisation and punishment of piracy and other maritime crimes. “The Gulf of Guinea, sadly, had been at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region. The challenge of maritime insecurity [in] the region had been further compounded by a deficit of legislation to address the challenge.” 

Professor Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan, director-general of NIALS, said, “With the Nigerian economy generating more than 70% of seaborne trade in West Africa, the country and region will prosper if the seas were safe for investment and commerce.

“Through this seminar, we hope to build greater understanding of the common challenges of maritime safety and security and how the SPOMO Act 2019 seeks to promote synergy among justice sector actors – judges, prosecutors, anti-corruption agencies, security, and law enforcement agencies – to effectively respond to the multiple challenges earlier highlighted.”