Akwa Ibom fishermen threaten to take legal action against state government over planned enforcement of maritime safety regulations
Feb. 16 (THEWILL) – Akwa Ibom state fishers under the auspices of: Watch Out Fishermen Cooperative Society, aka Ghana Joint Union, Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of the state have threatened to sue the government of the state for a decision to begin law enforcement of maritime safety rules.
The association said the state government does not have the power to regulate the maritime sector as it falls under the exclusive legislative list, adding that only the federal government, through the National Assembly, has of such power.
The group warned that any move by the state government to regulate this would amount to usurping power from the federal government and its agencies and that such action would be fought in court.
THEWILL reports that the State Government had, in an earlier memo to the Association through the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Transport dated December 31, 2021, alerted of its intention to commence maritime safety development in local coastal government councils.
The memorandum with registration number: MOTSM/S/157/178 titled “Maritime Safety Regulations Commencement and Enforcement in Akwa Ibom State” reads in part. I have been instructed to inform you that the Akwa Ibom State Government has commenced maritime security development including biometric registration of boats, vessels, waterfront reorganizations, beach operation in all areas state local government coastlines.
“By this letter, you are requested to cooperate with Marine Security Officers to enable them to carry out their official duties effectively, as stipulated in the Akwa Ibom Marine (Regulation) Act 2017.”
But in a swift response in a letter through their lawyers, Ogunbiyi Oluwajuwon and CO, the fishermen have called on the state government to refrain from taking such action as it is illegal.
The association said biometric registration of boats or ships does not exist anywhere in the world, adding that biometrics only relates to human characteristics.
The letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Otuekong Nse Edem, and copy to the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, State Attorney General, Barr Uko Udom and State Police Commissioner, Andrew Amiengheme, reads in part “We are lawyers from the Watch Out Fishermen Cooperative Society, Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area also known as (Ghana/Joint Union), Ibaka. Said association is hereinafter referred to as “Our Client”.
“Our office has received your letter with reference number: MOTSM/S/157/173 dated December 31, 2021 with the above caption addressed to “Our Client” and we have been advised accordingly.
We would like to state that “the maritime sector falls 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 the same.
“Your alleged action to regulate the maritime sector in Akwa Ibom State will amount to usurping the power of the Federal Government and its agencies.
“Biometric registration of boats or vessels does not exist anywhere in the world. Biometrics is one of the derived human characteristics that makes your action nothing less than extortion, which is a crime under our law.
“We want to advise you to cease and desist from contacting our customers about your illegal activities. Once an action violates the laws of the land, it becomes illegal, no matter how high-placed or well-conceived it is. .
“Please take this letter as proper notice to take legal action against you and the state government in the event that you continue your alleged illegal practice. One stick in time saves nine. The letter read.