ABUJA (FMT’s REPORT) – Federal Government has called on the Judiciary and the Legislature to lend their support to the reformation of the maritime industry for the purpose of achieving maximum exploitation of the economic potentials of the sector.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who made the call in Abuja at the 14th maritime seminar for Judges also called on the economic regulators to come with viable blue prints that would reform the sector to enhance the economy of the nation for the benefit of all.
Buhari stated that in order to achieve maximum productivity and efficiency in the maritime industry, Nigerians must be ready to get rid of fraudulent and corrupt practices.
According to him, “Corruption as we all know is one of the enemies of economic development. Corruption increases cost of doing business, destroys ease of doing business, distorts process and procedures, rubs government of legitimate revenue and also gives the country a bad image.”
“One way of removing corruption from our economy is to have lucid, simple and predictable rules governing our economic activities. Another sure way of reducing corruption is by embracing automation.
“We cannot afford to perpetuate the cases of mismanagement and squander of national resources which we have witnessed in some of our institutions in the sector. The time for a paradigm shift is now and in line with our agenda for a corruption-free society”, he said.
Buhari, who pointed out some of the challenges which he said have bedeviled the maritime industry that require a robust and effective response from government, disclosed that appropriate directives have been given to the necessary national authorities to ensure that waterways remain safe and conducive for international and domestic trade and commerce.
Speaking at the seminar, Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi stated that the importance of quick and efficient handling of maritime matters by courts cannot be over-emphasized, adding that in maritime commerce, time is money.
Amaechi stated that strategic partnership between the Nigerian Shippers Council and the National Judicial Institute (NJI) will go a long way to equip judicial officers with the requisite knowledge to help facilitate expeditious of dispensation of justice in maritime cases in the country.
He said, “There is no gainsaying the fact that the judicial system plays a critical role in the economic development of the maritime sector.”
“I am therefore, glad to note that the gathering among us of eminent jurist, Judges and justices of superior courts of records in Nigeria and other countries in the West African sub-region, especially, the Gambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana will not be in vain”, he said.
The Minister suggested that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should consider the creation of a maritime in the Federal High Court, equipped to handle maritime cases expeditiously in view of the economic sensitivity of such cases.