By Ucha Wilberforce
One of Nigeria’s finest learned minds, Pius Ukeyima Akuta, Esq, has been confirmed as Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC). Until his appointment and confirmation, Akutah was Principal State Counsel in the Office of the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council is the Port Economic Regulator and a trade facilitation agency, with the responsibility to promote fair trade practices in the industry amongst the providers and consumers of shipping and port services. Its mandate is to establish an enabling environment for all stakeholders by instituting an efficient and effective economic regulatory system in the transport sector.
Versed in law, Akutah is an expert in International Criminal Law. His journey to becoming an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court (of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) started at the University of Jos, for a Diploma in Law from 1993 to 1995. He was at the University of Abuja, where he pursued an LLB, earning his Bachelor of Laws degree.
Between 2010 and 2012, Akutah studied at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria for his LLM. An alumnus of the United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and a chartered Mobile and Computer Forensics Examiner, Akutah has actively contributed to the successful negotiation of numerous Bilateral Agreements between Nigeria and several nations about Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition.
While still serving as state counsel, the NSC boss was involved in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, International Criminal Law Division, Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition unit.
Throughout his career, he has shown expertise in international law and justice, legal writing, and consultation, offering guidance whilst engaging in the prosecution of counter-terrorism cases, as well as actively participating in arbitration and dispute resolution processes.
Akutah is also well-versed in United Nations conventions, regional and sub-regional charters, as well as agreements, with a deep understanding of the operations of public international institutions and multinational corporations within the realm of international politics.
Among the critical functions assigned to him in this capacity was negotiating international agreements, and formulating Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA). He also prosecuted Extradition cases, a task that demands a deep understanding of the international legal framework.
Previously, he held the position of Senior State Counsel from January 2009 to January 2012, within the Federal Ministry of Justice. During this tenure, his professional focus was primarily on the practice of International Criminal Law where he handled cases of transnational crimes, including but not limited to cybercrime, terrorism-related offences, drug trafficking, bank fraud, and various other forms of transnational crime.
Born in 1968 at Ushongo Local Government Council Area of Benue State, Akutah is empathic and is deeply involved in community development and human empowerment.
In 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of former President Muhammadu Buhari, honoured the Ushongo born with presidential civil service merit award and in 2022, Member of the Order of Niger (MON). All these were made possible due to his exemplary record of service to the state and humanity.
Indeed, a golden fish has no hidden place. This may explain why President Bola Tinubu picked him for the appointment. He is, therefore, bringing to the table his rich experience as a learned mind of profound erudition.
It must be emphasised that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was appointed the Port Economic Regulator in February 2014, to create an effective regulatory regime at the Nigerian ports for the control of tariffs, rates, charges and other economic services, in line with the Federal Government port reform agenda.
The Council addresses the negative impact of port concession activities on the economy due to the absence of an economic regulator and to realise the optimal benefits of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s port reform processes.
NSC, being the Port Economic Regulator and a trade facilitation agency, has the responsibility to promote fair trade practices in the industry amongst the providers and consumers of shipping and port services. The council, therefore, remains resolutely determined to be the foremost economic regulatory agency in the country.
The important role of transport and logistics in international trade cannot be over-emphasised. That is why the Council as the port economic regulator is mandated to ensure that the quality, quantity and cost of services in the entire transportation and logistics chain is moderated and standardised in line with global best practice.
Lest one forgets, transport is a critical determinant in the conduct of international trade and impacts national economies. The availability, quality, cost, and efficiency of transport services influence the trading environment and the competitiveness of export goods on the international market as well as the cost of imported goods.
In this regard, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council serves as an agent for economic development through interventions in cost moderation and cargo transport issues resulting in a positive impact on inflationary trends in the country.
Barr. Pius Ukeyima Akutah is well-equipped to deliver on this very tall and challenging assignment. Let all hail the New Sheriff as he enters the Ship House.
Wilberforce wrote this piece from Apapa.