- Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad
By Anthony Nwachukwu
Towards a faster, less expensive and more satisfactory resolution of admiralty cases, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad, has urged judicial officers to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), where necessary, rather than only litigation in settling cases.
This came as the judiciary and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have started recording convictions of pirates and related criminals based on the 2019 Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, which is now strengthening the arm of the law against maritime criminalities.
Mohammad made the call in his keynote address to eminent jurists and legal experts at the ongoing 2nd Nigerian Admiralty Law Colloquium in Lagos, with the theme, Maritime Safety, Security and Shipping Development: Reflections and the Way Forward.”
The CJN, who was represented by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun (JSC), commended NIMASA for the various strides taken thus far in ensuring a secure maritime environment, adding that “consequently, the colloquium has so far come up with resolutions which will positively impact the maritime sector.
“Within the contest of positive resolutions at this colloquium, it is important to discuss the impact of resolving disputes in an alternative way, hence I must not fail to draw your attention to the fact that litigations do not always give the best solution for parties involved in maritime disputes.
“In other words, as judicial officers, it behooves us to adopt alternative dispute resolution mechanism, as this may bring about faster resolution of disputes, taking into consideration the highly expensive nature of litigations. Certainly, ADR affords litigants a less complicated option.”
The CJN further acknowledged the maritime sector as one with specialised laws and regulations governing its operations in Nigeria, stating that owing to its attendant economic value, it is also expected to be troubled by both unique and dynamic challenges.
According to him, it is on this premise that the colloquium was organised to afford judicial officers the opportunity as stakeholders to deliberate on pertinent issues affecting the maritime sector.
“NIMASA has been given the statutory mandate to, among other things, ensure the safety and security of vessels on Nigerian waters and inside this mandate, NIMASA has thought it wise to convene this colloquium to rob minds with other stakeholders and participants on their experience,” Mohammad said.
“To this end, the theme of this colloquium, ‘Maritime Safety, Security and Shipping Development: Reflections and the Way Forward,’ could not have come at a better time bearing in mind that the need to enhance maritime safety and security has indeed fostered development in the sector.”
Therefore, he urged judicial officers to take cognisance of the fact that the desired resolutions “expected in maritime disputes are maintained at all costs in order to boost confidence in the court system as well as maritime operations and management.”