Section 251 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers the Federal High Court to entertain matters bordering on admiralty jurisdiction, shipping and navigation on the waterways. However, the mere fact that goods are conveyed/carried to Nigeria by Sea does not bring a claim within the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. ONLY a claim founded on the subject of Maritime (such as service rendered aboard a ship/vessel) can invoke the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
See the case of B.B. Apugo & Sons Ltd v. Orthopedic Hospital Management Board (2016) LPELR-40598 (SC).
The court in COMPACT MANIFOLD & ENERGY SERVICE LTD v. WEST AFRICA SUPPLY VESSELS SERVICES LTD (2018) ALL FWLR (PT 928) 121 CA held that the Federal High Court’s jurisdiction cannot be invoked where the cause of action borders on recovery of contractual debt. It is immaterial that the contractual debt being claimed involves a carriage of goods by sea.
Wale Adeagbo Esq (AICMC)
Litigation and Dispute Resolution Attorney.