By Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni
The Federal Government on Wednesday said it had taken appropriate steps to ensure that Admiralty Law (Maritime Law) was included in the curriculum of Universities in the country for speedy resolutions of maritime cases.
Alhaji Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council ‘(NSC) disclosed this at the 15th International Maritime Seminar for Judges, organised by the council, in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja.
He said that the Ministry of Transportation had set up a steering committee to work collaboratively with the National Universities Commission (NUC) to see how admiralty law could be taken as a course in the tertiary institutions.
“The National Universities Commission has been approached to look into making admiralty law a compulsory subject (in the universities).
“In fact, there is no hiding from that; it must be done.
“We have to have sanctity of contract; we have to respect and effect international treaties, and then we have to boost our export (profile) for example.
“And we need legal officers – lawyers and judges – to be conversant with it and if we are conversant with it, it must start right at the university.
“So, we are pushing with that committee; very soon, you will hear what the committee is doing.
“And I hope that they will establish the teaching of Admiralty Law in our universities.’’
He said that the inclusion of admiralty law in the curriculum would serve as the bedrock for future lawyers and judges to resolve maritime cases.
Also, Chief Justice of the Gambia, Justice Hassan Jallow, said that admiralty law had not been included in the university curriculum of his country, noting the impact of these on the timely resolution of maritime cases.
He said that the seminar had impacted participants from his country, as they were now abreast of the importance of admiralty law which was alien to most judges in the Gambia.
“We don’t have admiralty law being studied in our university unfortunately we don’t have it as a course in the faculty of law or at the law school.
“Many of us have gone through the university without studying it.;
“It’s a very important subject – incredible; lawyers now recognise the essence of this field and more students will subscribe to it because you need the understanding of the law to be able to regulate the sector.
“If lawyers and judges are not familiar with the law, things cannot work well.
“So, the familiarisation programme is important.’’
Justice Abdulahamid Charm, Chief Justice of Sierra Leone said that although his country gets limited maritime cases, legal practitioners were making efforts to familiarise themselves with the law.
He admitted that maritime law was part of the curriculum of schools in the country, adding that efforts would be made to equip legal practitioners with the law.
“We don’t have maritime law in the curriculum of our universities and we are ready to discuss with the authorities to introduce it.
“Because, that will really help to fully equip our judges and lawyers when they have such cases in court.’’