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NBC to defend Nigeria’s continental shelf extension before UN

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The National Boundary Commission (NBC) on Friday said Nigeria would soon defend its continental shelf extension project before the UN Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf.

The NBC Director-General, Dr Mohammad Ahmad, told agency reporter in Abuja that Nigeria has made a submission on the project.:Preparatory to that, we are working towards strengthening our case so that it will scale through.

“This is because a lot of things must have transpired between the time we submitted our request and now.”

“We envisage that there will be the need for an additional scientific survey of the seas.

“We are trying to get that done so that, by the first quarter of the year, the UN panel will be able to examine the progress of the project,’’ he said.

Ahmad said Nigeria had on May 7, 2009 submitted its request for the extension of the shelf from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles.

NAN reports that the request was submitted to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

“We have submitted our request in accordance with the relevant articles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) within the UN time limit.

“It is supposed to go through processes and it has already gone through some of the processes. The government was satisfied with its provisions,’’ the NBC director-general said.”

Ahmad disclosed further that Nigeria decided to seek the extension of the continental shelf based on Article 76, paragraph 8 of UNCLOS.

He said each literal entity of a country which borders the sea has a limit of 200 nautical miles, adding that the 200 nautical miles, legally, was part of the territory.

“If you can prove that the continuation of your landmarks will earn you additional area, you may make a submission to the UN Commission of the Limit of the Continental Shelf”

“It is this commission that will examine your application and the scientific proof you have given,’’ the NBC director-general said.

He said the project was handled with experts from the ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Works.

“These experts, as well as those from the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, among others, were involved,”Ahmad said.

He also said that a team of consultants was chosen from Canada and the UK to assist the Nigerians experts on the project.

Ahmad said the shelf’s extension would enable Nigeria to explore and exploit its seabed resources to enhance the country’s economy and facilitate peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea.

“We have been drilling oil and gas and other resources within the 200 nautical miles.”

“So, if it can be extended to 350 nautical miles, we can go into other explorations like fishing and oil. This will promote Nigeria’s economic development.

“It will also enable the country to operate both economically and militarily beyond the 200 nautical miles up to 350 nautical miles into the sea,” he said.

(NAN)