The immediate past Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has harped on the need for Nigeria and Africa to design regional maritime laws that will protect their interests.
Bello who was speaking at a reception organised in his honour by the Nigerian Maritime Law Association in Lagos on Tuesday questioned the internationality of maritime laws most of which serve interests of some foreign countries.
“I question the internationality of maritime. I question IMO (International Maritime Organisation) that will reduce carbon emission without saying who is going to bear the cost.”
He said frankly that fairness is not the flagship of international shipping and threw the challenge on the association to come up with regional laws that will protect and enhance regional shipping.
“We’ve sold out to international laws. Of course we need international laws but Africa needs its own laws.
Remember how we fought the congestion charges. That was unfair. Charges were placed on Nigeria and other African countries without consultation.”
He reiterated the need for regional laws that will serve the interests of Africa so that whoever wants to deal with Africa will look at its laws.
He called for the repeal of Hague Rules and its piecemeal protocols before the Hamburg Rules come into effect.
According to Bello, the two rules are in force and it’s now a matter of convenience, as “everyone will take what is convenient. It’s not elegant at all.”
Earlier, in her opening speech, the President of the association, Mrs. Funke Agbor (SAN), said that the association was honouring Bello because he was very special and dear to them.
Though she said the former NSC boss wasn’t well disposed to the plan but he agreed to it because “we are his people.”
Agbor said she got to know him between 2002 and 2004 when they started maritime seminar for judges.
“We worked very well together from the time he was the legal adviser on conventions and other things.
“He’s a Nigerian of Nigerian. He’s a wonderful gentleman, a unique man that I can’t compare anyone with in the public sector.
“I thank him for his understanding of some of us working for foreign interests. He understands that we are doing our job.”
In his own speech, Justice Yinka Faji of the Federal High Court said that he was being celebrated because he has given a lot to the maritime industry.
He wished that the country will continue to use his talent.
Prof. Sodipo said in his own speech that he has known Bello for a long time and has been watching him from afar.
He described him as a man that gave easy access for people to see him, adding that the private sector is proud to have him which is a loss to the government.
To Mr. Chidi Ilogbu (SAN), Bello came on board to learn and within a short time became an expert and began to shine.
Ilogbu noted that though they have differing views they have remained friends.
He said he was embarrassed for Bello’s support to the association when he held sway as its president despite their opposite opinions.
In her own speech, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi thanked her learned friends for honouring Bello.
She described him as a fine gentleman who radiates nothing but goodness.
“He’s one of the most dedicated public servant I have come across. He’s a good leader.
We wish government will not let him retire to his village or we will go and fetch him because we still need him”.
Speaking in the same vein, Bello’s successor at NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jimeh* said he could bear witness that his predecessor is a gentleman per excellence who gave good leadership.
He assured the learned friends that Bello wasn’t going anywhere as his appointment is literarily third term for him.
“I feel happy to have him as my predecessor. He left a very big shoe and it’s my determination to wear the shoe.”
He assured the lawyers that cooperation and partnership existing between NSC and association will be strengthened during his time.