Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) has stated that delays in maritime cases in Nigerian courts have caused the nation’s maritime industry to lose foreign direct investments and admiralty cases involving Nigerians and Nigerian nation being taken to other courts abroad.
Mr. Chidi Ilogu SAN, President of the association, stated this when the association visited the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice A.A. Kafarati, last week and called for creation of an Admiralty Registry by the court.
Mr. Chidi Ilogu SAN, represented by the 2nd Vice President, Mr. Mike Igbokwe SAN, noted that delays occasioned by administrative and judicial issues have had adverse effects on foreign direct investment in Nigeria and taken admiralty disputes involving Nigerians and Nigerian entities to other jurisdictions. The lawyers offered to make their expertise available for the training of judges in maritime law to ensure proper guidance of Judges in the adjudication of highly technical maritime issues.
“Many legal practitioners who have no specialized education, knowledge and experience in maritime law end up handling weighty admiralty issues and cases which they are unable to articulate effectively before the court, with the high and often occurring risk of misleading the court. It therefore speaks to the need to have the Judges specially and continually trained on both substantive and procedural aspects of admiralty law,” said Ilogu.
The association called for the intervention of the Chief Judge to stem the negative trend occasioned by the issues raised so as to protect the integrity of both the Bar and the Bench, facilitate the efficient dispensation of justice and strengthen the confidence that litigants have in the Nigerian admiralty jurisdiction.
Responding, Justice Kafarati appreciated the association for its continuing solidarity with the Federal High Court, and promised to look into the issues raised. He expressed concern about the issues raised by the lawyers, and acknowledged the need for an admiralty registry for the Court.
Kafarati said ”the court will look into the possibility of having admiralty claims filed under seal, to prevent the incidence of leakage of information relating to arrest applications.’
He promised to encourage increased collaboration between the court and the association, and tasked the lawyers to equally explore the collaboration on training of Judges with the National Judicial Institute.
Others in attendance at the meeting included Honourable Justice Binta Nyako, Hon. Justice Evelyn Maya and Hon. Justice Aneke, all of the Federal High Court. In addition, the Honorary Secretary of the Association Mr. Emeka Akabogu; its patron Mr. Louis Mbanefo SAN and other members of the association were also in attendance.