Fishermen in Akwa Ibom State under the auspices of Watch Out Fishermen Cooperative Society, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of the state also called (Ghana/Join Union) had said the state government has no power to regulate the maritime sector as it falls within the Exclusive Legislative List.
The group noted that only the federal government through the National Assembly has such regulatory power.
The group stated this following the state government’s memo through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation dated December, 31, 2021 intimating it of plan to commence enforcement of marine safety regulations in littoral local government councils.
The memo with registration number: MOTSM/S/157/178 tagged, “Commencement of Marine Safety Regulations and Enforcement in Akwa Ibom State” reads in part, “I have been directed to inform you that Akwa Ibom State government has commenced marine safety development including biometric registration of boats, vessels, reorganisations of waterfront, beach operation in all littoral local government areas of the state.
“You are by this letter requested to cooperate with marine safety officers to enable them carry out their official duties effectively as stipulated in the Akwa Ibom Marine regulations law, 2017”.
However, the association through it’s
solicitors, Ogunbiyi Oluwajuwon and CO, described the state government position as illegal and urged government to desist from such action.
The association said there is no such thing as biometric registration of boats or vessel anywhere in the world, adding that biometric only relates to human characteristics and stressed that, such action by the state government is nothing less than extortion, which is a crime under the law.
The letter was addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Otuekong Nse Edem, and copied to the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, state Attorney General, Barr Uko Udom and Commissioner of Police in the state, Andrew Amiengheme.
Part of the letter read, “Our office is in receipt of your letter with reference No: MOTSM/S/157/173 dated 31st December, 2021 directed to “Our Client” and we have been briefed accordingly. We wish to state that the maritime sector is within the Exclusive legislative list as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which invariably means that only the federal government through the National Assembly has the power to legislate on same.”
The lawyer who noted that any attempt by the state government to regulate the maritime sector amounts to usurping the power of the federal government and her agencies, warned the state government against contacting his clients forthwith over the issue or risk a legal battle.
“Kindly, take this letter as appropriate notice to commence legal proceedings against you and the state government in case you go on with your purported illegal exercise. A stitch in time saves nine”, he added.