….host 16th Maritime seminar for judges
By Ignatius Ushie
The Federal government in it’s bid to retrieve and rejig the shipping industry through job creation for it’s national which are currently being occupied by foreigners who according to the Minister if Transportation is predominantly the owners of shipping lines operating in Nigeria, the Federal government has reaffirmed Commitment to establish a national shipping line.
Speaking at the 16th International Maritime Seminar for Judges organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) a parastatal under the the Federal Ministry of Transportation in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja, the Minister of state for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki said it was important for Nigeria to take charge of the shipping activities within the country in order to reap fully the economic benefits of the maritime sector. The Minister who was Represented by the Director of Procurement, Useni Adamu, Saraki stated that, the essence of the seminar is for capacity building in the maritime industry.
According to her, “It is a common knowledge that most of our maritime transportation is conducted by foreign shipowners, thereby limiting the economic benefits accruable to the nation and the sub-region in areas such as creation of jobs, freight and insurance earnings etc” she said.
The Minister explained that “It is in the above regard that the development of a national fleet becomes imperative. The present administration is looking into ways of encouraging the establishment of a private sector-driven national shipping line to ensure maximum exploitation of the potentials in our maritime industry, adding that “A Ministerial Committee has been working on this important initiative and I look forward to having their concrete recommendations for immediate implementation” she stated.
Earlier, while welcoming Judges of Federal High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of Sierra Leone and the Representatives of Supreme Court Judges from Ghana, Kenya and other West African countries, Saraki explained the need for continues collaboration and engagement with the judiciary in ensuring smooth development of the maritime sector.
In her words, “My Lords, the lacuna created by the low penetration level in Maritime Law at the undergraduate levels of our Universities, coupled with the fast pace of development in international trade, exerts a lot of strain on our judicial officers some of whom are confronted with this special area of the law for the first time when Admiralty matters are brought before their courts for adjudication.
The Minister said, “It is therefore commendable that this seminar has created a veritable forum where prominent jurists and legal luminaries come together to rub minds on how to enhance the competitiveness and economic viability of our maritime industry, not only through the capacity building of the judicial officers, but indeed also in tackling some of the crucial issues on the front burner of maritime discourse both locally and globally.
“This Saraki said will no doubt increase the confidence of investors in the industry, since it is obvious that an efficient, lucid, predictable and stable legal system plays a very significant role in attracting investors” the Minister noted.
In his Address, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola said “In light of the foregoing, this Seminar is designed among other things to acquaint participants with emerging trends in the sphere of Admiralty Law and the challenges that digitalization and globalization may throw up on the adjudication of admiralty matters.
According to him, “I can say without contradiction that Judges who have experienced and participated in this Seminar in the past, have become better equipped with knowledge of rudimentary in maritime laws necessary in handling complex maritime claims/cases”.
In his vote of thanks,, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime said “the task of organizing and maintaining a high quality event like this, is understandably, not an easy one. It requires enormous commitment, sacrifice, dedication and patriotic duty and responsibility.
“It is therefore in this light that I want to thank the Chairman and members of the International Maritime Seminar for Judges Organizing Committee led by the Honourable, the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice John T. Tsoho for their untiring and priceless work done in putting all this together in spite of the unusual late start of the preparations. May the good Lord bless all of you and the work that you do” Jime said.