We are strengthening institutional and legal frameworks of agencies under Marine Ministry- Oyetola

… Maritime sector is fast moving as there are a lot of innovations and changes- ES, NSC

Oru Leonard 

Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola has said that since the creation of his ministry, they have been working hard to strengthen the institutional and legal frameworks of the agencies under the ministry.

Oyetola who stated this during his remark in the 17th International Maritime Seminar for Judges noted that the ministry has recently thrown its weight behind the repeal of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Act CAP N113 LFN and the Enactment of the Nigerian Shipping and Port Economic Regulatory Agency Bill, 2024, in order to bring it up to speed with current realities and maximize the gains of the ongoing reforms when it is eventually passed in to law.

He therefore urged Judges from various jurisdictions, to provide a veritable platform for the harmonization and unification of business laws for greater economic integration.

He stressed here that the Federal Government places premium on the outcomes and recommendations of this Seminar and solicited for the support of stakeholders and all industry players to give our young Ministry the much needed support in order to succeed in creating a pathway towards diversification of the nation’s economy from oil dependency to non-oil economic prosperity.

The Minister also said, “As many of you are now aware, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Judicial Institute have been actively collaborating since 1995 when the first seminar was held, with the objective of educating and providing the Justices and Judges of our superior courts with Knowledge of the contemporary development in the complex and dynamic subject of admiralty law and practice, as it affects the administration of justice in Nigeria.

“The maritime sector is a complex and dynamic field that necessitates comprehensive legal and regulatory systems.

“As Justices/Judges, your role is indispensable in interpreting and applying maritime law to resolve disputes, uphold international standards, and promote justice.

“Similarly, the topic on trade facilitation and Alternative Dispute Resolution are not only relevant but are indeed germane in international trade facilitation.

“Maritime law is not just about resolving conflicts at sea; it is about safeguarding the rights and responsibilities of nations, corporations, and individuals. It ensures the protection of the marine environment, the regulation of maritime commerce, and the security of navigation routes. The rule of law in maritime affairs underpins the stability and prosperity of the global economy. Your interpretations, and indeed decisions have far-reaching implications, not only for the businesses and individuals operating in the maritime sector, but also for the long-term sustainability and resilience of our blue economy.

Also speaking at the event, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, Board of Governors, National Judicial Institute, Hon. Olukayode Ariwoola in his keynote address, stated that the National Policy on Justice recommends continuous training as one of the key elements that guarantees the independence of the Judiciary, as well as the quality and efficiency of the judicial system.

“In light of the foregoing, this Seminar is designed among other things to acquaint participants with emerging developments in the sphere of Admiralty Law and the challenges that digitalization and globalization may throw up on the adjudication of admiralty matters by Judges. I can say without contradiction that Judges who might have experienced and participated in this Seminar in the past have become better equipped with knowledge of rudimentary maritime laws in handling complex maritime claims/cases”.

The CJN noted that the Maritime law is a specialized area of the law, which has witnessed novel developments, noting however, that taking into consideration the importance of the blue economy and the maritime industry, being the cornerstone of transportation in International Commerce, it becomes imperative that Seminars of this nature are organized to bring to the front-burner challenges which may impede development of the industry.

“Furthermore, in order to put participants on a stronger footing, Judges at this forum would benefit and gain insight from presentations on topics such as- Shipping in the Age of Innovation and Climate Change: The Role of Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vessels and De-carbonization; ADR as an effective Tool in the Resolution of Maritime Disputes: Current Developments and Matters Arising; Admiralty Jurisdiction Procedure Rules 2023 and Matters Arising among several others.

“With regard to the issue of Security of the Maritime space, I encourage Judges at this forum to continue to apprise themselves with the recent innovations of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act 2019, as it establishes a legal framework for the prosecution of piracy and protection of maritime infrastructure”, he said.

Speaking earlier the The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Akutah Pius, explained that the gathering which has been happening for the last 32 years has brought together eminent jurists, experts in maritime law to discuss issues within the maritime law for the aim of educating the judges and practitioners in this field of law in order to promote the efficiency of the court proceedings in maritime law.

On the need for repeal of the Shippers Council Act, he said the maritime sector is fast moving as there are a lot of innovations and changes coming up in the sector, therefore the need for basic requirements that countries should adopt in their laws.

He said: “We need to bring this law up to speed and bring it to the modern realities of the maritime sector.

“The president has found it necessary to focus attention on the maritime sector to grow the economy. Therefore, we need a very strong law that is capable of providing for the modern realities of the sector.”

Highlight of the seminar was the presentation/ book launch of the 16th international Maritime seminar for judges and the presentation of N10 million cheque each for the 16th and 17th edition by Sir Emeka foundation.

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