By Lucy Ogalue
The Federal Government has called for speedy dispensation of maritime matters by the courts to ensure boost in the sector.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, made the call at the on-going International Maritime Seminar for Judges in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister, represented by the ministry’s Director of Procurement, Mr Hussein Adamu, also commended the sustained partnership between the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC)and National Judicial Institute(NJI).
“The importance of speedy and efficient dispensation of maritime matters by the courts can never be over-emphasised because, as we all know, in international commercial transactions, time is money and it is even more so in a multi-billion dollar industry like ours.
“ I must commend the sustainability of the partnership between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and National Judicial Institute which dates back to 1995.
“This strategic partnership stemmed from the recognition of the need to specially furnish our judicial officers with the requisite knowledge to assist them in facilitating expeditious dispensation of justice in maritime causes in our courts.
“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.
“ 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 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.
“It is worth mentioning that this seminar series have contributed immensely in charting the policy direction of government in the maritime sector. I am happy to state that Government will continue to rely on the important outcomes of this forum for policy enunciation,” she said.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in his address, reiterated the need for continued training in order to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
Ariwoola said, ‘`Training will also add value to the quality and efficiency of the judicial system, which the judiciary is known for.
“No doubt, capacity-building is an integral part of the legal profession for members of the Nigerian Bar, irrespective of your chosen field as a judicial officer or a legal practitioner.’’
According to him, the seminar was designed to acquaint participants with emerging trends in the sphere of Admiralty Law and the challenges that digitisation and globalisation may throw up on the adjudication of admiralty matters.
The CJN urged the National Judicial Institute to deepen the collaborative agreement with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to aid the course of justice and enhance speedy dispensation of justice in Admiralty matters.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Emmanuel Jime, thanked the participants for making efforts to attend the event while wishing everyone fruitful deliberation. (NAN)