The Senate has passed a bill seeking to provide legal framework for the administration of Nigeria’s territorial sea and offshore activities.
The Bill for an Act to Repeal the Exclusive Economic Zone Act 2004; and the Territorial Waters Act 2004 and Enact the Nigerian Maritime Zone Act to Provide for Maritime Zones in Nigeria was sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East).
The Senate passed after it considered a report on it by the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, said the bill sought to streamline all national laws and efforts in line with global best practices in other jurisdictions and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The lawmaker said the legislation passed by the chamber set out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas should be carried out.
He noted that Nigeria had vast resources from the ocean, which include oil and gas, fish and fisheries resources, minerals, salt, renewable energy resources, hence the need for such legislation.
Bamidele stated that stakeholders at a public hearing on the bill posited that the territorial sea, in addition to internal waters, was a zone within which Nigeria enjoys sovereignty.
He emphasised that the legal nature of the maritime zone was relevant and sacrosanct to the negotiation process of the establishment of maritime boundaries.
He noted that recent events with neighboring states had brought to the fore the seeming shortcomings of Nigeria’s policy on ocean.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH