15TH International Maritime Seminar for Judges: Day 2

Hon. Justice Chima Centus Nweze (JSC), Prof. Akin Oyebode and Hon. Justice Paul A. Galinje (JSC)

15TH International Maritime Seminar for Judges: Day 2

The second day of the international maritime seminar for judges holding in Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja, lived up to its billing, as delegates were treated to a sumptuous intellectual menu from an array of experts.

Hon. Justice Chima Centus Nweze (JSC), Prof. Akin Oyebode and Hon. Justice Paul A. Galinje (JSC)

NEWSWIRE Law and Events magazine correspondent in Abuja reports that the first of these experts was Prof. Akin Oyebode, the former dean of the faculty of law at the University of Lagos. At a session chaired by Hon. Justice Paul A. Galinje, a Justice of Nigeria’s Supreme Court, Prof. Oyebode spoke on the topic, ‘Applicability of International Treaties to Nigerian Law.’ In his typically engaging style, the learned scholar opened his presentation by pointing out the seeming paradox in Nigeria’s continued fidelity to the international system (as exemplified by her numerous external commitments) at a time when some of the most powerful nations in the world were beating a retreat (e.g. President Trump’s withdrawal from a raft of treaties and agreements, and of course, Brexit).

A further look at this situation, however, shows it to be no paradox, Prof. Oyebode said. Not only is Nigeria desirous of been seen as an important member of the global community, she also recognizes that international treaties, freely entered into by nations, remained the bulwark of peace, security and stability. The sanctity of treaties, therefore, remained a bastion of global legality.

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Having said that, however, the former dean was careful to try to juxtapose the country’s obligations to international laws on the conception and implement of local laws that answer the questions posed by our peculiar circumstance – in other words, a delicate balance between the monist and the dual approaches, or between municipal and international laws.

Nigeria, he concluded, has long operated a lacuna in its in its basic law in regard to the relationship between local  and international, but this has not stopped her treaties and laws from demonstrating a clear tendency to adhere to international treaties. Prof. Oyeboye advised that this tendency towards a strong legal and judicial independence on one hand, and a responsible attitude of solidarity with the aspirations of the international community on the other, be continued as it demonstrates Nigeria’s desire to be seen as a key stakeholder in the ques-at for global security and prosperity for all.

Prof. Oyebode’s presentation was commented upon by two eminent persons, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, who is the director-general of Ghana’s Chamber of Shipping, and by the Hon. Justice Chima Centus Nweze, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In his comments, Dr. Mbia reiterated the key points raised by Prof. Oyebode, but also went on to highlight certain similarities and differences between the constitutions  of Ghana  and Nigeria, in respect to the supremacy or otherwise of international law to municipal law. Nigeria, he maintained, was going through what he called ‘a golden age of treaties,’ one in which various international treaties have become a reality in Nigerian law.  Citing a number of seminal cases in Nigerian legal lore, Dr. Mbia demonstrated that domestic law and international law – though on two different trajectories – are close, with none superior or inferior.

In both Ghana and Nigeria, he said, there is a clear insistence that international laws derive from all sources of law and values, including Common Law, hence the relative ease with which our legal authorities are able to domesticate these laws within their jurisdictions.

Similar views on the subject under review were expressed by the Hon. Justice Chima Centus Nweze, JSC, who urged participating judges to break free from the ‘dichotomy of monist vs dualist’ approaches to her international obligations.

Further comments were made by Barrister Hassan Bello and others.

After returning from their lunch break, the delegates plunged into yet another topic, Primacy and Armed Robbery At Sea: Issues Of Legal Interpretation and Judicial Application. This session was chaired by Hon. Justice U. M. Abba-Aji, the Presiding Justice of The Court of Appeal in Kaduna.

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The lead speaker was Dr. Kamaldeen Alli, a captain in the Ghanaian navy, as well as a director of the center for maritime law and security Africa. His detailed and comprehensive analysis of the topic took his listeners on a world-wide journey about the evils of these armed crimes, and proffered solutions to them.

As expected, Dr. Alli’s brilliant presentation was well received and commented on it both by major stakeholders, some of who were seated among the audience, while others sat at the high table with Justice Abba-Aji, such as the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu; the representative of the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); a representative of the director of legal services in the Nigerian navy; Ghisela Vieria, who works with the International Maritime organization; and the respected lawyer, Mr. Mike Igbokwe, SAN.

Thus the second day ended, as delegates looked forward to the third and final day of deliberations, Thursday, July 5, 2018 at the 15th annual International Maritime Seminar for Judges.

NEWSWIRE’s correspondent reports from the Sheraton Abuja venue of the event that Thursday’s programme would consist of presentations by erudite resource persons on two lecture topics: ‘Right of a Cargo Owner at the Insolvency of a Carrier – the Hanjin Shipping Experience’ and ‘An Overview of the Proposed Liability Regime for Inland Carriage of Goods (Road, Rail and Inland Waterways.’

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