The Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) has constituted a reforms committee to lead the efforts in improving key procedural rules and substantive law in line with its plans to boost efficient dispute resolution in admiralty law in Nigeria.
The 16-member committee, named “The Nigeria Admiralty Law and Procedure Reform Committee,” would be co-chaired by Jean Chiazor-Anishere and Osuala Nwagbara, while members include Omolola Ikwuagwu, Nelson Otaji and Chisa Uba.
Others include Babatunde Ogungbamila, Adolphus Nwachukwu, Adedoyin Afun, Echefu Ukattah, Nonso Azih, Olukayode Dada and Kashimana Tsumba, with Gbolahan Elias (SAN), Dolapo Akinrele (SAN), Wale Olawoyin (SAN) and Olumide Sofowora (SAN) as advisory members.
The committee, which report is expected by May 25, was saddled with the responsibility of proposing initiatives and implementing strategies for repositioning admiralty law practice with a particular focus on achieving speed in filing, assignment, hearing and determination of admiralty matters, said a statement co-signed by Chidi Ilogu (SAN), president, and Emeka Akabogu, honorary secretary.
“Implementation of a modern fit-for-purpose Admiralty Registry; review of procedural rules, particularly Admiralty Jurisdiction Procedure Rules and Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules; and reform of substantive law, in 1999 Constitution, Admiralty Jurisdiction Act and Federal High Court Act,” were listed as part of the expectations from the committee.
According to NMLA, there has been a steady decline of admiralty law and practice over the years, largely as a result of sub-optimal procedural rules and poor judicial interpretation of substantive law.
“Judicial decisions have not been consistent with standard global expectations, while speed, which is at the heart of functional admiralty litigation, has taken a back-seat. In the result, a number of significant maritime interests are no longer keen on having Nigeria as a jurisdiction for adjudication of their disputes,” the statement further revealed.