The concept of “admiralty practice” is an age-long international concept dealing with
transactional matters pertaining to the use and operation of vessels. The concept is often said to be “sui generis” because it is a distinct class with features that are not common to other transactional matters. Prominent among these features are the concept of “action in rem” and “action in personam”, legal personality of ships and arrest of ships. It is in recognition of this distinctive nature of Admiralty that most nations have accorded it a separate jurisdiction for the adjudication of cases arising and/or pertaining to such transactions. In Nigeria, the concept has been acknowledged in Section 251 (1)(g) of the amended 1999 Nigerian Constitution and in the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1991.
Section 251 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution expressly states that jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court in admiralty matters is to the exclusion of any other Court in civil causes and matters. It stipulates as follows:
(g) any admiralty jurisdiction including shipping and navigation on the River Niger or
River Benue and their affluents and on such other inland waterways, all Federal Ports
(including the constitution and powers of the port authorities for Federal Ports) and
carriage by sea.
This Constitutional provision is further elaborated upon by the scope of Admiralty
Jurisdiction set out in the Sections 1 and 2 of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1991.
Section 1 of the said Admiralty Jurisdiction Act provides:
1. Extent of the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court
(1) The admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High Court (in this Act referred to
as “the Court”) includes the following, that is-
(a) Jurisdiction to hear and determine any question relating to a proprietary
interest in a ship or aircraft or any maritime claim specified in section 2 of
(b) Any other admiralty jurisdiction being exercised by any other court in
Nigeria immediately before the commencement of this Act;
(c) Any jurisdiction connected with any ship or aircraft which is vested in any
other court in Nigeria immediately before the commencement of this Act;
(d) Any action or application relating to any cause or matter by any ship owner
or aircraft operator or any other person under the Merchant Shipping Act
or any other enactment relating to a ship or an aircraft for the limitation of
the amount of his liability in connection with the shipping or operation of
aircraft or other property;
(e) Any claim for liability incurred for oil pollution damage;
(f) Any matter arising from shipping and navigation on any inland waters
declared as national waterways;
(g) Any matter arising within a Federal port or national airport and its
precincts, including claims for loss or damage to goods occurring between
the off-loading of goods across space from a ship or an aircraft and their
delivery at the consignee’s premises, or during storage or transportation
before delivery to the consignee;
(h) Any banking or letter of credit transaction involving the importation or
exportation of goods to and from Nigeria in a ship or an aircraft, whether
the importation is carried out or not and notwithstanding that the
transaction is between a bank and its customer;
(i) Any cause or matter arising from the constitution and powers of all ports
authorities, airport authority and the National Maritime Authority;
(j) Any criminal cause and matter arising out of or concerned with any of the
matters in respect of which jurisdiction is conferred by paragraphs (a) to (i)
of this subsection.
(2) The admiralty jurisdiction of the Court in respect of carriage and delivery
of goods extends from the time the goods are placed on board a ship for the
purpose of shipping to the time the goods are delivered to the consignee or
whoever is to receive them, whether the goods were transported on land
during the process or not.
1 Pre-AJA cases like Petrogessica Enterprises v. Leventis Technical (1992) 5 NWLR, Aluminium Manufacture Co v NPA
(1987) 1 NWLR (Part 51) 475, American International Ins. V Ceekay Traders (1981) 5 SC. 81 only recognised admiralty
matters which arose while cargo was still on board the vessel.
(3) Any agreement or purported agreement, monetary or otherwise connected
with or relating to carriage of goods by sea, whether the contract of carriage
is executed or not, shall be within the admiralty jurisdiction of the Court.
Section 2 of AJA sets out types of maritime claims as being proprietary or general.
Section 3 stipulates that the admiralty jurisdiction applies to all ships and all maritime
claims wherever arising once the vessel is in Nigerian territorial waters. It is quite evident
from these classifications that the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is
extensive and comprehensive. Section 19 AJA confers on the Federal High Court
exclusivity in both civil and criminal admiralty matters to the exclusion of State High
Courts which hitherto contended with the Federal High Court for jurisdiction over such
However, in the last ten years or so, a new dimension is gradually emerging in Nigerian
Admiralty Jurisprudence which inadvertently is returning admiralty jurisdiction to the
State of flux reminiscent of jurisdictional wars between Federal High Court and State High Courts in the 1980s. It seems to be resurrecting the “ghost” of Savanah Bank v. Pan
Atlantic Shipping & Anor2, which heralded the definitive pronouncement of the Supreme
Court that the Federal High Court had exclusive jurisdiction in admiralty matters to the
exclusion of the State High Courts. Notable among these issues are;
1. Transactions now classified as “Simple Contracts”
2. National Industrial Court Jurisdiction over Crew Wages
3. Issuance of Concurrent Writs
4. Principal and Agency Matters
This presentation seeks to interrogate these issues given their adverse implications for the growth of Admiralty Practice in Nigeria.
(1.) WHAT IS A “SIMPLE CONTRACT”?
(1987) 3 NSC Page 1
Wikipedia defines a simple contract “as a contract made orally or in writing, rather than
a contract made under seal. A simple contract requires consideration to be valid but may
be implied from the conduct of the parties bound by the contract”.
The Court of Appeal per Danjuma JCA accepted Prof. Sagay (SAN)’s definition of simple
contract in his book – Nigerian Law of Contracts as “all contracts other than formal contracts or contracts required to be under seal”
These two definitions tend to suggest that “Simple Contracts” are more or less informal or elementary understandings arrived at between two parties devoid of lengthy phraseology and terms. It is therefore surprising to see lengthy contracts and agreements being classified as “simple contracts” in some admiralty matters discussed in this paper.
Furthermore, it is observed that neither Section 251 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution nor the provisions of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1991 expressly excludes “simple contracts” or contracts generally from being classified as admiralty claims/matters as long as they fall within the subject matter scope highlighted in these provisions.
In the case of Chevron (Nig) Ltd v. Lonestar Drilling (Nig) Ltd, the Supreme Court
considered the question whether an action for breach of contract for supply of goods
conveyed by sea is an admiralty action and agreed with the view expressed by the Court
of Appeal per Niki Tobi JCA (as he then was) that “I have carefully examined the claim
and I am of the view that it is a claim in contract and has nothing to do with admiralty. It
is clearly stated in the claim that it is for the sum of $10,000,000 as special and general
damages, it is not an admiralty action. “The fact that a transaction between two parties in
Nigeria involves the conveyance of a Rig – subject of the transaction by sea from one
country (India) to Nigeria does not give that transaction the character of an admiralty
Given that the contract pertained to carriage by sea, one wonders if the matter could not
be considered to be a maritime matter. In the case of Ports & Cargo Handling Services
Adeniyi v. Governing Council Yaba College of Technology (2012) LPELR 8434 (CA) (2007) LPELR – 842 (SC) & (2007) 1 NWLR (Part 1059) 168 SC. 170. See also BB Apugo & Sons Ltd v. OHMB (2016) LPELR – 40598 (SC)
Ltd & 3 Ors v. Migfo Nigeria Ltd & Anor5., Aka’ahs JSC maintained that the parties had
entered into two (2) simple contracts for supply, delivery and installation of (a) X-Ray
equipment and spare parts (b) prosthetic orthortic equipment from Siemens Germany.
Notably there was short-delivery or short landing of the goods carried by sea. Respectfully, this should have constituted a maritime transaction or cause of action. However, it is conceded that the cause of action arose and was filed on 5th July 1988 when both the State and Federal High Courts had concurrent jurisdiction. As such, the State High Court was at liberty to retain jurisdiction over the matter which was already pending before it before the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act came into force in 1991 and had no retrospective effect.
It remains a moot point whether the action could be classified under Section 1 of AJA as
a claim for loss or short delivery of goods shipped on board a vessel for delivery in Nigeria.
As regards the supply of the Rig from India in the Chevron v. Lonestar case, it is contended that it relates to “any jurisdiction connected with any ship or aircraft…”. It is argued that the attempt to distinguish the nature of the transaction or contract introduces grounds for
the controversy as to what amounts to a “simple contract” or a contract not connected with a “maritime” cause of action or subject strictly so called as contended by their Lordships in BB Abugo and Port & Cargo cases.
Closely related to the above observation is the arguments which arose in TSKJ (Nig) Ltd
v. Otochem (Nig) Ltd6 where the Supreme Court maintained that “it can be seen at a
glance from the amended Statement of Claim reproduced above that the main plank of the Plaintiff’s case is the breach of the terms of payment by the Defendant in respect of the contract entered into between the Plaintiff and the Defendant. The action instituted by the Plaintiff before the Rivers State High Court is for the recovery of accrued but unpaid hire rentals for the houseboat let by the Plaintiff to the Defendant and damages for breach of contract simpliciter”.
Even though the houseboat was conveyed from Warri to Bonny and was defined as being “a flat-bottomed boat or barge” with a superstructure fitted out for living, the Supreme Court (per K. B. Aka’ahs JSC (pp 34-35 para B-E) held that such factors did not affect the (2012) 11 & 12 SCM 205 per Aka’ahs JSC (pages 90-91, para D-B) (2018) SC 118 jurisdiction of the Rivers State High Court from adjudicating on the breach of the contract notwithstanding the subject matter of the cause of action relates to a boat/ship. Also, controversy trails such cases as M.R.S. and Texaco Overseas v. Pedmar (Nig) Ltd7 (involving Stevedoring contracts), where the Court sought to distinguish debt recovery/simple contracts from admiralty claims. It is observed that in Crestar Integrated Natural Resources v. The Shell Petroleum Development Co (Nig) Ltd SC 765/2017 decided on 5th day of June 2020 in a Lead Judgment delivered by Ejembi Eko JSC, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to determine contracts generally even where they pertain or relate to oil fields and oil drilling operations. With the greatest respects, the distinction is rather begging the question or difficult to comprehend.
It is observed that the provision of Section 251 (i) (g) of the 1999 Federal Constitution does not create any exemption or proviso to the admiralty jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court. It states, “any admiralty jurisdiction including shipping … and carriage by sea”.
It is pertinent to note that in the case of banking relationships/transactions, Section 251(d) of the Constitution clearly includes a proviso which stipulates “Provided that this
paragraph shall not apply to any dispute between an individual customer and his bank
in respect of transactions between the individual customer and the bank”.
It is therefore not difficult to appreciate the interpretation given by the Supreme Court in
Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (Liquidator) of Allied Bank of Nigeria Plc)
v. Okem Enterprises Ltd & Anor8 where it held (per Uwaifo JSC) –
“…I have considered the arguments advanced by the parties. I agree entirely with
the reasoning of the Court below … A lot depends on the nature of the transaction
between the two banks. The facts show that the Plaintiff (a Bank) like any other
customer placed a short-term deposit with the Defendant (another Bank) on agreed
(2002) 13 NWLR (Part 785) 526; (2016) LPELR 42251 (CA)
(2004) LPELR 1999 (SC)
It follows that where there is a Banker/Customer relationship between two Banks, the
proviso to Section 251(d) applies. There is no such qualification in respect of admiralty or
maritime matters and the judicial distinction introduced by the Courts as to simple
contracts in the case of admiralty or maritime matters, respectfully derogates from the
constitutional jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court as it relates to such causes
Perhaps it would serve as a commendable litmus test to adopt the diction of Adefope-Okojie FCA in Gamji Fertilizer Co. Ltd & anor v. France Appro. S.A.S & ors (2016)
LPELR – 41245 (CA) where on the issue of whether the Federal High Court has
jurisdiction in matters of “simple contract”, the Court of Appeal held:
“……………. where, however the principal claim can be adjudicated upon only in the
Federal High Court, that Court, I hold is the proper forum for determination of the action”
– (page 22, para B-E)
As such where the subject matter of the contract is one in which the Federal High Court
has exclusive jurisdiction such as in admiralty matters, that court should exercise
jurisdiction. It is therefore opined that the nomenclature of “simple” contract should be
jettisoned as superfluous or unnecessary once a matter pertains to admiralty or has an
(2.) NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT JURISDICTION OVER CREW WAGES
Another matter eroding the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is the recent
incursion of the National Industrial Court into the adjudication of crew claims for wages
and the inalienable in rem right of arrest of vessel by crew for unpaid wages well
recognised worldwide in admiralty practice.
In a 2017 decision of the Federal High Court (Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1807/2017 –
Assuranceforeningen Skuld [GJENSIDIG] v. MT “Clover Pride” & Anor), a claim
for wages of crew was held to fall outside the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. In
that case, the Court per Idris J (as he then was) relied on Section 254C (a) & (k) of the
1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to confer jurisdiction on the National Industrial
Court in respect of matters pertaining to crew wages. Section 254C (a) & (k) of the 1999
Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) provides as follows:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of section 251, 257, 272 and anything contained
in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred
upon it by an act of the National Assembly, the National Industrial Court shall have
and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and
a. Relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade union, industrial
relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including
health, safety, welfare of labour …”
k. Relating to or connected with disputes arising from payment of salaries, wages,
pensions, gratuities, allowances, benefits and any other entitlement of any
The Court held that the implication of the above provision was to confer the National
Industrial Court with exclusive jurisdiction over employee wages and other labour related
matters. It therefore held that the action of the Applicant being one founded on claims for
unpaid crew wages was outside the jurisdictional competence of the Federal High Court.
The Court further considered Section 2(3) (r) of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act vis a vis
Section 254C (a) & (k) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and held that the
Section 2(3)(r) of AJA being at variance with the provision of the Constitution was void
to the extent of its inconsistency. Therefore, the Court declined jurisdiction to entertain the
case and accordingly transferred it to the National Industrial Court. It also discharged the
Order of arrest of the vessel involved in the action in rem.
This decision has abrogated the right of an aggrieved party to arrest the ship for crew wages
as the National Industrial Court is not vested with the jurisdiction to arrest a ship. This
suggests that the only option available to an aggrieved party whether a Nigerian or a
foreigner in Nigeria is to institute an action at the National Industrial Court for recovery of
the wages against a shipowner/charterer who in most cases is a foreigner with an address
of service and assets outside the jurisdiction of the Court. This decision is capable of
placing a huge hardship on a litigant in terms of commencing an action against the
shipowner/charterer and enforcing a judgment against the said shipowner/charterer in
However, some judges within the same Federal High Court and of coordinate jurisdiction
have approached the matter proactively. Hon. Justice J.T. Tsoho in the case of of MOE
OO & 26 ors v.The MV PHVC HAI SUN (FHC/I./CS/592/11) held that the provision of
Section 254C (K) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended) does not apply
to a claim by crew members of a vessel on a voyage to Nigeria and whose crew members
are not Nigerians. This pragmatic approach is yet to be tested before the appellate courts.
An equally pragmatic approach was adopted by Hon. Justice Faji in the “MT. Sam
Purpose” case – Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1365/2017 decided on 28 March 2018 where His
Lordship decided that “part of the jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court is to apply
the Labour Act, section 91 of which defines the term worker which in sub-paragraph (f)
does not include “any person employed in a vessel or aircraft to which the laws
regulating merchant shipping or civil aviation apply.”
In the light of this exclusion, His Lordship declined to follow the MT Clover Pride earlier
decision. Regrettably, the contending issues of constitutional exclusivity and judicial
interpretation seem to have been reconciled or resolved by the Court of Appeal when the
M/T Sam Purpose v. Amargeet Singh Bains (2021) LPELR – 56460. CA) got there on
appeal. His Lordship Gumel, JCA. in the lead judgement held inter alia that the exclusive
jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court as conferred by the Constitution cannot be
limited by the Labour Act or other Acts:
“The mention of the Labour Act does not however whittle down the exclusive jurisdiction
of the National Industrial Court. Rather any reference to the Labour Act and other Acts
operates to include matters arising out of the Labour Act and other relevant National Laws
within the jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court.
The provisions of the Constitution cannot be limited or restricted by an Act of the National
Assembly. See the cases of ABIA STATE & 35 ORS VS. A-G OF THE FEDERATION
(SUPRA) and NATIONAL UNION OF ELECTRICITY EMPLOYEES & ANOR VS.
BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (2010) LPELR-1966 (SC) 38. Thus, by the clear
provision of the Constitution, there are no restrictions or reservations as to the extent of
the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court, thus Section 91 of the Labour
Act cannot be invoked, interpreted and/or applied to limit the application of Section 254C
(1)(b) of the Constitution.”
The Court of Appeal accordingly upheld the M/T Sam Purpose Appellants appeal setting
aside Hon. Justice Faji’s decision discussed earlier.
The necessary implication of this Court of Appeal decision is that the age-long and
fundamental “in rem” right of a seaman internationally recognized in admiralty practice
remains in a quagmire in Nigeria. This development has no doubt rendered the arrest of
vessel for crew wages in Nigeria a “non-starter” and futile. It is contended that the urgent
solution to this dilemma and the need to salvage the “in rem” right of the seaman in Nigeria
should result in a Constitutional amendment to the sweeping and excessive National
Industrial Court jurisdiction to create an exception for seaman wages which legitimately
amounts to an “in rem” right in admiralty practice and conforms to international age-long
(3.) CASES OF PRINCIPAL & AGENT
Another area of contention is the issue of principal and agent in maritime claims. I closely
align with the interpretation given by the Supreme Court in Rhein Mass Und See & Ors
v. Rivway Lines Limited” –
“It is a cardinal rule of interpretation which has been accepted in numerous cases
in this country, that if the words of the statute are in themselves precise and
unambiguous, no more is necessary than to expound those words in their natural
and ordinary sense, as the words themselves in such case best declare the intention
of the legislative…. I do not think there is a place for the incorporation of the
mischief rule in this case …” per Ogundare JSC.
In the Rhein Mass case, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the Joint Venture Agency
Agreement & Commission between the parties related to vessels and though commenced
as an action in personam and was properly commenced as an action before the Federal
High Court after eight and half years (8 ½) it was not caught by the six-years’ time bar of
(1998) LPELR – 2949 (SC)
the State High Court being that actions maintainable as admiralty action are exempt from
Section 7(1) of the Limitation Act 1966. It is noted that the simple contract or Principal
/Agency argument that was maintained by the various Courts in the case of Cemar
Shipping Inc v M/T Cindy Gaia & 4 Ors10 which involved a principal/agent
relationship in a Sale and Purchase of vessels transaction, introduced a rather unfortunate
dimension to a maritime cause of action. It is argued that such sale and purchase agency
pertains to a proprietary interest in a ship within the purview of Section 1 (i)(a) of the
Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1991. It is contended that to classify the transaction as purely
a principal/agent commercial transaction simpliciter would amount to denying the
transaction its admiralty content and flavour.
This argument meets the criteria set by the lower courts and endorsed by the Supreme
Court (per Ogundare JSC) in Rhein Mass Und See & ors v. Rivway Lines Limited (1998)
LPELR – 2948 (SC) as follows:
“Turning to the case in hand; Plaintiff claims that it made some disbursements on account
of various vessels; as ship agents for and on behalf of the defendant and has not been
reimbursed. These are the facts giving rise to this cause of action. As found by the two
courts below and as conceded by Mr. Agbakoba and quite rightly in my view, this cause
of action is one falling within the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High Court – see
Section 2 (2) Admiralty Jurisdiction Act 1991.”
This trend would no doubt go a long way in preserving the integrity of the admiralty
jurisdiction in Nigeria.
(4.) ISSUANCE OF CONCURRENT WRITS
Issuance of a concurrent writ of summons to be served outside jurisdiction in an admiralty
action in rem is rather an anomaly and inconsistent with the age-long common law
tradition of the in rem procedure. The fact that other parties are named in the in rem
processes along with the named vessel does not make it incumbent on the Claimant to take
out a concurrent writ of summons (in personam) to be served outside jurisdiction on the
named person or other parties listed on the processes.
NSC Vol. 10 p. 456
In an action in rem Court processes are addressed to and served traditionally on the vessel
and master within jurisdiction as agent of the vessel owner who is usually not physically
within jurisdiction but abroad whether his address is disclosed or not. Where the Owner
wishes to defend the action, he enters an appearance usually through Counsel and files a
Statement of Defence to the action. By so doing he is deemed to have submitted to
jurisdiction and the case can then proceed both as an action in rem (against the vessel)
and in personam (against the owner). Where the owner fails or refuses to appear, the action
remains purely an action in rem against the vessel. Where security is provided for release
of the vessel the action remains an action in rem to be realised or settled against the bond
posted for its release. The primary aim of the action in rem remains the obtaining of prejudgment security for a maritime claim and is prima facie founded upon an arrest of the
In MV Western Star & 2 Ors v. B. L. Lizard Shipping Co. Ltd, the Appellants
contended that the Respondent failed to seek and obtain prior leave of the trial Court to
issue the writ of summons in this case meant for service on the 2nd Appellant who was
resident outside the jurisdiction of the Court, and mark the writ as a concurrent writ for
service outside the jurisdiction contrary to the provision of the Sheriffs and Civil Process
Act. Appellant Counsel submitted that by virtue of Order 6, Rule 12(1) of the Federal High
Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2000 which is now in pari materia with Order 6 Rules 14(1)(2) and Rules 15 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 the 2nd and 3rd Appellants were resident within jurisdiction although the 1st and 3rd Appellants were within jurisdiction when the 1st Appellant was arrested. He submitted that the address for service on the 2nd Appellant was Ukraine but nevertheless the Respondent purportedly served it through the 3rd Appellant (Master of the vessel). Appellant Counsel submitted that the originating process meant for service on one Defendant cannot be served on another. The cited the case of Management Enterprises v. Otusanya (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt 55) 180 where the Court held that the service of process on a Defendant is one of the fundamental conditions precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction by a Court.
Much as this is the normal practice in the commencement of action and service of
processes in the commercial courts. It is not so in admiralty actions in rem where service
of processes is only served on the vessel and master/captain of the vessel in practice as
stipulated in the AJPR. It is hoped that this negative trend will be urgently reversed as the
MV Western Star case and other similar cases progress on appeal to the Nigerian Supreme
Court so as to restore the expediency and practical benefit of the in rem action in the best
interest of admiralty practice in Nigeria. The controversial position in “The Arabella”11
has been corrected by the Supreme Court in the case of Abraham v. Akeredolu12 to the
effect that the entire country constitutes one jurisdiction and as such leave is not
required for purposes of service of processes from one division of the Federal High
Court to another.
It is worth re-iterating that the legal maxim “delay defeats equity” is most apposite in
Admiralty matters where time is of the essence and involves vessels which travel from one
jurisdiction to another in the course of international trade and expensive carriage of goods.
The need for admiralty claims to be expeditiously treated cannot be over-emphasised.
Admiralty matters involve many features and technicalities which are of universal
application. This calls for much specialized knowledge among the Judges who are charged
with administering justice in this area. The call for an Admiralty Division with Judges with
specialized competencies in the areas of Admiralty and Carriage of Goods by Sea
principles continues to cry for attention. This will go a long way in hastening the trial
process and enhancing the quality of justice dispensed in Admiralty matters.
This exercise of revisiting admiralty practice in Nigeria has sought to identify and
interrogate the emerging trend whereby the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High
Court is fast losing its identity. It is argued that where a cause of action relates to or pertains
to an admiralty or maritime matter then such cause of action should be classified within
the realm of Admiralty Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court whether the matter relates
to a simple contract or not.
(2008) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1097) 182 at 206
(2018) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1628) page 510
Gamji Fertilizer Co Ltd & Anor v. France Appro S.A.S & Ors 2016 LPELR – 1245 (CA) (p. 22, paras B-E) per AdefopeOkojie JCA
It is equally suggested that the principle of “relating to or pertaining to …” as was
enunciated by the Supreme Court in the case of SDPC v Abel Isaiah & Ors should be
adopted to preserve the integrity of the Federal High Court as regards its admiralty
jurisdiction. This approach will also prevent the resurrection of the ghost of the Savannah
Bank v. Pan Atlantic Shipping & Anor15 and similar controversial cases. It will also stem
the “simple contract” argument which has had very adverse consequences for the
application of the admiralty concept.
Finally, it should be stressed that the law and practice of admiralty and their related
jurisprudence are international in nature. As such, Nigerian Courts should endeavour to
align with such international best practices thereby preserving the age-long uniformity in
admiralty matters within the Comity of Nations.
L. Chidi Ilogu (SAN), FCIArb
(2001) 11 NWLR (Part 723) p. 168
(1987) 3 NSC 1 (supra)