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Administration of the Act


1. Administration of Act and delegation of powers.

2. Agency for Maritime Safety Administration.

3. Returns as to merchant shipping, etc., to the Minister.

4. Appointment of officers.


Restriction on Trading in Nigeria

5. Certificate of licence required by all ships trading in Nigeria.

National Character of Ships

6. Need to show colours.

7. National character of ships to be declared before clearance.

8. Penalty for unduly assuming Nigerian character.

9. Penalty for concealment of Nigerian or assumption of foreign character.

10. Penalty for acquiring ownership if unqualified.

11. Liabilities of ships not recognised as Nigerian ships.

12. Penalty for carrying improper colour.

Name of Ship

13. Name of ship.

14. Change of nature of ship.

15. Minister to make rules regarding name of ship.


Registration and Licensing of Ships

Registries of Ships

16. Registry of ships.

17. Register or books.

Qualificationsfor Owning Nigerian Ships

18. Qualification for owning Nigerian ships.

19. Obligation to register ships.

Procedure for Registraton

20. Minister to make regulations. 21.Application for Registration.

22.Survey and measurement of ship. 23.Marketing of ship.

24.Declaration of ownership in registry. 25.Entry of particulars in register.

26.Entry of particulars in register. 27.Managing owner to be registered. 28.Cancellation of registration 29.Restriction on deregistration of ship.

Certificate of Registry 30.Issue and custody of certificate of registration 31.Use of impoper certificate .

32. Power to grant new certificate.

33. Endorsement of change of master on certificate. 34.Endorsement of change of ownership on certificate of registry. 35.Endorsement of change of ownership on certificate registry.

36. Re- registration of abandoned ships

37. Provisional certificate for ship which in foreign country becomes Nigerian owned. 38.Temporary passes instead of certificate of registry.


40.Procedure for registration of alteration. 41.Provisional certificate where ship registered anew. 42.Procedure for registration anew.

Transfer of Registry

43. Transfer of registry within Nigeria.

44. Nigerian licensed ships.

Forfeiture of ships.

45. Proceedings on the forfeitures of ships.

Incapacitated persons.

46. Provisions for cases of infancy.

Trusts and Equitable Rights.

47. Notices of trust not acceptable.

48. Equities not excluded by Act and liabilities of owner.

Declaration, etc.

49. Power of Registrar to dispense with declarations and other evidence.

50. Mode of other declaration

51. Evidence of other foreign reisters.

52. Forms of documents and instructions as to registry.

53. Forgery of documents and false declarations.



54. Mortgage of ship or share in ship.

55. Obligation of mortgagor to disclose existing liabilities.

56. Entry of discharge of mortgage.

57. Priority of mortgages.

58. Powers of mortgagee.

59. Transfer of mortgage.

60. Transmission of interest in mortgage by death, bankruptcy, etc.

Mortgages and Transfer of Nigerian Ships out of Nigeria

61. Authority to sell or mortgage out of Nigeria.

62. Rules as to certificates of mortgage.

63. Loss of certificate of sale or mortgage.

64. Revocation of certificate of sale or mortgage.


Certificate of Sale

65. General rules for certificates of sales.

66. Procedure where ship sold under certificate of sale granted in Nigeria.


Maritime Liens

67. Source of maritime liens.

68. Priority of maritime liens.

69. Order of priority of maritime liens.

70. Rights of ship builder and ship repairer.

71. Overriding nature of maritime lien.

72. No lien attaching to claims related to oil pollution or radio-active material.

73. Extinguishing period for maritime liens.

74. Interpretation of limitation period.

75. Effects offorced sale of ship.

76. Proceeds of sale.

77. Certificate of sale by court.


Transfers and Transmissions

78. Transfer by bill of sale.

79. Registry of transfer.


80. Transmission of property in ship on death, bankruptcy, etc.

81. Order for sale on transmission to unqualified person.

82. Transfer on sale of ship by order of court.


Certificate of Competency of Masters and Crew

83. Regulations regarding manning and qualifications of persons serving on Nigerian ship.

84. Power to exempt ship.

85. Approval of foreign certificate.

86. Tribunal of Inquiry.

87. Tribunal may recommend cancellation, etc., of a certificate.

88. Cancellation of certificate by the Minister.

89. Appeals against cancellation, etc., of certificate.

90. Offences.


Employment of Seamen

91. Seafarer Services Office, NMLA No. 46 of2003.

92. Functions of superintendent.

Agreementfor Sea Service

93. Agreement with crew.

94. Form, period and conditions of agreement.

95. Provisions for termination.

96. Special provisions as to agreement with crew of a sea-going ship.

97. Special provisions as to agreement with crew of a ship other than a sea-going ship.

98. Fees upon engagement and discharge.

99. Changes in crew of sea-going ships to be reported.

100. Certificate as to agreement with crew of sea-going ship.

101. Certificate as to agreement with the crew of a ship other than a sea-going ship.

102. Copy of agreement not to be made accessible.

103. Forgery, etc., of agreement with crew.

104. Alterations of agreement with crew.

105. Seaman not to be bound to produce agreement.

Agreement with Local Seamen

106. Engagement of local seamen.

107. Engagement between masters of foreign ships and local seamen.

108. Penalty for breach.

109. Inspection of foreign ships in connection with engagement of local seamen.

Discharge of Seamen

110. Procedure on discharge of seamen, etc.


111. Report of seaman’s character.

112. Fake or forged certificate of report of character.

Special Provision as to Seamen Left Behind Abroad

113. Certificate of proper officer required where seaman left behind abroad.

114. Account of wages in case of seaman left behind on ground of unfitness, etc.

115. Payment of wages of seaman left behind on ground of unfitness, etc.

116. Application by appropriate officer of payments on account of seaman left behind in foreign country.

117. Repatriation of seaman on termination of service at foreign port.

Distressed Seamen

118. Rules as to relief and maintenance of distressed seamen.

119. Provisions for relief and maintenance of distressed or shipwrecked seaman.

120. Recovery of money advanced for distressed seaman.

121. Mode for providing for return.

122. Decision on questions as to return port.

123. Provisions as to taking distressed seaman on ship, etc.

124. Appropriate officer may require master of Nigerian ship to take seaman in distress.

Payment of Wages

125. Payment of wages before superintendent.

126. Master to deliver account of wages.

127. Deductions from wages.

128. Notice of disrating of seaman.

129. Time of payment of wages of sea-going ships.

130. Time of payment of wages for Nigerian ship other than a sea-going ship.

131. Settlement of wages.

132. Decision on wages by superintendent.

133. Power of superintendent to require production of ship’s papers.

134. Rule as to payment of seaman in currency other than that mentioned in the agreement.

Annual Leave with Pay for Seamen

135. Leave entitlement.

136. Pro-rata entitlement for periods less than one year.

137. Unavoidable absence to be counted as part of period of service.

138. Periods not to be counted as part of leave.

139. Leave pay in advance.

140. Payment in lieu ofleave.

141. Divisibility of leave pay.

142. Place of taking of annual leave.

143. Agreement to relinquish right to leave null and void.

144. Cancellation of annual leave emergency.

Advance and Allotment of Wages


145. Advances restricted.

146. Allotment notes.

147. Allotment through savings banks.

148. Master to give facilities.

149. Right of suing on allotment notes.

Rights of Seamen in respect of Wages

150. Time for payment of an allotment note.

151. Right to wages, etc., when to begin.

152. Right to recover wages and salvage not to be forfeited.

153. Wages not to depend on freight.

154. Wages on termination of service by wreck.

155. Wages on termination of service by illness.

156. Wages not to accrue during refusal to work or imprisonment.

157. Forfeiture of wages, etc., of seaman when illness caused by his own default.

158. Court’s order on cost of punishment may be deducted from wages.

159. Compensation to seaman improperly discharged.

160. Restriction on sale of a charge upon wages.

Mode of Recovering Wages

161. Summary proceedings for wages.

162. Savings for cases of ships other than Nigerian ships.

163. Remedies of master for wages disbursements, etc.

164. Powers of court in case of unreasonable delay in paying master’s wages.

Powers of Court to Rescind Contracts

165. Power of court to rescind contract between owner or master and seaman or cadet.

Property of Deceased Seaman

166. Property of seaman who dies during voyage.

167. Dealing with and account of property of seaman who dies during voyage.

168. Penalty for non-compliance with provisions as to property of the deceased seaman.

169. Recovery of wages of seaman with owner of ship.

170. Property of seaman dying in Nigeria.

171. Payment over of property of deceased seaman by the superintendent.

172. Dealing with deceased seaman’s property when he leaves a will.

173. Claims by the children.

174. Dealing with unclaimed property of deceased seaman.

175. Forgery of documents, etc., for the purpose of obtaining property of deceased seaman.


Welfare of Seamen Provisions, Health and Accommodation


176. Definition.

177. Regulations relating to crew accommodation.

178. Complaints as to provisions of water.

179. Inspection of provisions and water.

180. Allowance of short or bad provisions.

181. Weights and measures on board.

182. Ship to carry medicines, etc., in accordance with scale.

183. Inspection of medicines, etc.

184. Expenses of medical attendance in case of injury or illness.

185. Recovery of expenses from owner.

186. Accommodation of seamen, etc.

187. Certain ships to carry medical practitioner.

188. Penalty on master for filthy condition of passenger carrying ship.

189. Medical inspection of seaman.

Prevention of Accident to Seaman

190. Accidents to be reported and investigated.

191. Superintendent to investigate serious accident.

192. Minister to make regulations.

193. Minister to promote training in accident prevention.

Facilitiesfor making Complaints

194. Facilities for making complaints.

Provisions as to Discipline

195. Misconduct endangering life or ship.

196. Notice of absence from ship or duty given by seaman or cadet.

197. General offences against discipline.

198. Summary remedies not to affect other remedies.

199. Penalty for false statement as to last ship or name. 200.Deductions of fines from wages and payment to superintendent. 20 1. Penalty on stowaways.

202. Master’s powers of arrest.


Registers Official Log-books

203. Official log-books as evidence.

204. Entries required in official log-book.

205. Offences in respect of official log-books.

206. Delivery of official log-books to the superintendent.

207. Official log-books to be sent to Registrar of Ships on transfer or loss of ship.

Registration and Returns

208. Register of Seamen.

209. Return of births and deaths on Nigerian ships.

210. Transmission of documents to Minister.

211. Documents to be handed over to successor on change of master.


212. Minister may dispense with transaction before superintendent.

213. Deposit of documents at overseas port.

214. Conflict of laws.

215. Application to unregistered ships.


Safety of Life at Sea
216.General ProvisionsApplication of some related maritime safety Conventions and Protocols.
218.Breach of safety regulations.

Survey of Ships

219. Surveyors of ships.

220. Ships to be surveyed annually.

221. Surveyor’s record of inspections and certificates.

222. Ships not to proceed to sea without certificate of survey.

223. Declaration of survey and partial surveys.

224. Owner may appeal if surveyor refuses declaration.

225. Surveyors to make returns.

226. Recognition of certificate of survey granted in other countries.


227. Issue of certificates of survey

228. Issue of safety certificates to passengers ships, e.t.c

229. Issue to cargo ships of safety equipment and exemption certificates

230. Issue to cargo ships of radio certificates and exemption certificates

231. Issue of general safety certificates, etc., on partial compliance with rules

232. Transmission of certificates.

233. Modification of provisions for exemption of ships

234. Notice of alterations and additional surveys

235. Certificate to be posted on board


236. Prohibition on proceeding to sea without appropriate certificates.

237. Modification of Safety Convention certificates in respect of lifesaving appliances.

238. Duration of certificates.

239. Expired and cancelled certificates to be given up.

240. Extension of certificates.

241. Safety Convention certificates and admissibility in evidence.

242. Issue of certificates by one Government at request of another.

243. Forgery of certificates.

Safety Convention Ships of other Countries

244. Certificates of Convention ships of other countries.

245. Modified survey of passenger ships holding Convention certificates.

246. Modified survey of cargo ships holding Convention certificates.

247. Miscellaneous privileges of ships holding Convention certificates.

248. Further provisions as to the production of Convention certificates.

249. Interpretation of this Part.

250. Construction rules.

251. Ships built in Nigeria.


Construction of Ships

Lifesaving Appliances

252. Rules for lifesaving appliances.

253. Ships to be provided with lifesaving appliances.

254. Inspection of ships for purposes of rules.

Boat Drill and Fire Drill

255. Boat and fire drill.


Adjustment of

256. Ships to have compasses adjusted.


Radio Rules

257 Radio rules.

Radio Surveyors

258. Appointment of Radio Surveyors.


Safety Provisions for Miscellaneous Vessels

259. Safety rules for miscellaneous vessels.

260. Exemption of certain ships from certain provision of this Part.


261. Survey of small fishing boats and other craft.

262. Fishing boats in certain circumstances deemed to be passenger or cargo ships.

263. Water and provisions for passengers.

264. Pilot ladders.

265. Countries to which Safety Convention applied.


Safety of Navigation Prevention of Collisions

266. Collision rules.

267. Owners and masters to observe collision rules.

268. Inspection for enforcing collision rules.

269. Duties of master in case of collision.

270. Collision to be entered in official log-book.

271. Application of collision rules to foreign ships and aircraft.

272. General duty to render assistance.

Signal of Distress

273. Signals of distress.

274. Obligation to assist vessels in distress, etc.

Dangers to Navigation

275. Report of dangers to navigation.

Report of Accidents and Loss of Ship

276. Accidents to be reported to Minister.

277. Notice to be given of apprehended loss of ship.

Search for Missing Ships

278. Search for missing ships.

279. Search and rescue regulations.


Unseaworthy Ships

280. Penalty for sending unseaworthy ships to sea.

281. Implied obligation as to seaworthiness.

282. Power to detain unsafe Nigerian ships.

283. Liability for costs of detention and damages.

284. Security for costs may be required.

285. Detention of unsafe foreign ships.

286. Complaint of unseaworthiness, etc., by crew.

287. Liability for costs and compensation on survey pursuant to complaint by crew.

Overloading and Overcrowding in Ships exempt from Survey


288. Rules for preventing overloading and overcrowding.


Load Lines

289. Interpretation of this Part.

290. Exceptions.

291. Countries to which Load Line Convention applies.

292. Load Line Regulations.

293 Certificates issued under the Load Line Convention.

294. International and local Load Line Certificates.

295. Certificates issued by other Governments.

296. Certificates issued at the request of other Governments.

297. Regulations as to the validity offoreign certificates.

298. Power to make exemption orders.

299. Further powers to exempt ships of novel design.

300. Extent of exemption.

30 1. Issue of exemption certificates.

302. Duration and extension of exemption.

303. Effect of Load Line Certificate.

304. Duration, renewal and cancellation of Load Line Certificate.

305. Ships not to proceed to sea without Load Line Certificate.

306. Deck Cargo Regulations.

307. Inspection of Nigerian load line ships.

308. Notice to be given of alterations affecting position of ship’s load lines.

309. Submersion of load lines.

310. Alteration or defacement ofload line marks.

311. Ships not to proceed to sea unless complying with Load Line Regulations.

312. Production of Load Line Certificates ofN igerian ships.

313. Production of Load Line Certificates of foreign ships.

314. Submersion ofload lines of foreign ships.

315. Posting up of Load Line Certificates and entry of load line details in ship’s log-book.

316. Inspection of ships regarding lines.

317. Contravention of Load Line Regulations and detention of ships.


Carriage of Bulk Cargoes

318. Bulk Cargo Regulations.

319. Precautions regarding grain cargoes.

320. Offences.

321. Safe containers.


Dangerous Goods

322. Regulations on dangerous goods.

323. Carriage and marking of dangerous goods.

324. Offences.

325. Rejection and disposal of dangerous goods by ship.

326. Forfeiture of dangerous goods.


Tonnage Measurement

328.Minister to make Tonnage Regulations.
329.Tonnage of foreign ships.
330.Foreign and other measurements.
331.Alteration between surveys.
332.Appointment of surveyors.
333.Marking of ships.
334.Passenger ShipsPower of the Minister to make regulations respecting passenger ships.
335.Offences in connection with passenger ships.


Prevention of Pollution from Ships

336. (1) Application of maritime Conventions for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, etc.

(2) Power of the Minister to prevent pollution from ships.

(3) Power to make regulations for the prevention of pollution from ships.

337. Further provision for prevention of pollution from ships.


Liability in Collision Cases

338. Interpretation of this Part.

339. Application of this Part.

340. Rules as to division of loss.

341. Damage for personal injury.

342. Right of contribution.

343. Limitation of actions.

Damages in Collision Cases

345.Measure of damage.
346.Burden of proof of loss or damage.


347. Total loss.

348. Damage to vessel.

349. Property on board.

350. Interest.

351. Currency for payment.


Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims

352. Persons entitled to limit liability.

353. Claims subject to limitation.

354. Where rule in this Part not applicable.

355. Conduct barring limitation.

356. Counterclaim.

Limits of Liability

357 General limits.

358 Limit for passenger claims. 359 Units of Account.

360 Aggregation of claims.


361. Interpretation of this Part.

362. Application.


Receiver of Wreck

363. Receiver and assistant receivers.

364. Determination of hazard.

365. Marking of wrecks.

366. Duty to remove hazardous wrecks.

367. Shipowner may contract removal.

368. Receiver to set deadlines, etc.

Fees of Receivers of Wreck

369. Receiver’s fee.

Vessels in Distress

370. Duty of Receiver where vessels in distress.

371. Powers of the Receiver in case of vessels in distress.

372. Power to pass over adjoining lands.

373. Power of Receiver to suppress plunder and disorder by force.

374. Examination in respect of ship in distress.

Dealing with Wreck

375. Rules to be observed by persons finding wreck.

376. Penalty for taking wreck at time of casualty.

377. Notice of wreck to be given by Receiver.

378. Claims of owner of wreck.

379. Immediate sale of wreck by Receiver in certain cases.

Unclaimed Wreck

380. Unclaimed wreck to be sold and proceeds paid into general revenue.

381. Delivery of unclaimed wreck by Receiver not prejudice title.

Removal of Wrecks

382. Removal of wrecks by Receiver.

383. Breaking and removal of wrecks.

384. Power of removal to extend to tackle, cargo, etc.

385. Interfering with wrecked vessel.

386. Summary procedure for concealment of wreck.


Assistance to and Salvage of Vessels

387. Interpretation of this Part.

388. Duties of owner, etc., master and salvor.

389. Contracts, services and equitable agreements.

390. Conditions and amount of reward.

391. Duty to render assistance and salvor’s misconduct.

392. Criteria for fixing reward and salvor misconduct.

393. Special compensation for salvage operation.

394. Apportionment between salvors.

395. Salvage of human life.

396. Claims and actions.

397. Duty to provide security.

398. Interim payment.

399. Limitation of action.

400. Exclusion.

40 1. Power to make regulations.

402. Salvage of life, cargo or wreck within Nigeria.

403. Determination of salvage disputes.

404. Valuation, detention and sale by Receiver.

405. Apportionment by Receiver and court.


Legal Proceedings Prosecution of Offences

406. Institution of prosecutions.

Imprisonment in lieu of Fine


407. General power of ordering imprisonment in default of payment of penalty.


408. Provision as to jurisdiction in case of offences.

409. Jurisdiction over ships lying off the coasts.

410. No jurisdiction for extra-territorial offences.

411. Power to apply Act to ships of other countries, and to exempt such ships.

412. Offences committed in foreign ports or on the high seas by officers and seamen of Nigerian ships.

413. Power of court or tribunal in trying offences.


414. Depositions as evidence when witness cannot be produced.

Detention of Ship and Distress on Ship

415 Enforcing detention of ship.

416. Notice to be given to consular officer where proceedings taken in respect of foreign ships.

417. Cost of detaining ship.

418. Sums ordered to be paid leviable by distress on ship.

Evidence and Service of Documents

419. Proof of attestation not required.

420. Admissibility of documents in evidence.

421. Service of documents.

Protection of Officers, etc.

422. All officers, etc., deemed public officers.

423. Protection of public officers.

Transmission of Documents

424. Notices, etc., in writing and provision for posting.

Exemption of Certain Ships, etc.

425. Exemption of naval ships.

426. Minister may exempt vessel, etc.


Investigations and Inquiries into Shipping Casualties

427. Power of Minister to appoint inspector, and powers of inspector.

428. Marine Boards.

429. Shipping casualties.

430. Grounds for cancellation of suspension of certificate. 43 1. Appeal to court.

432. Further powers of Marine Board.

Board of Survey


433. Board of Survey.

Scientific Referees

434. Reference in difficult cases to scientific persons.


Subsidiary Legislation

435. General power to make regulations.

436. General power of exemption.

437. Applicable Conventions, etc.

438. Penalty in subsidiary legislation.

439. Applied legislation.


Repeals and Transition Repeals, etc.

440. Repeal of Cap. 224 L.F.N. 1990.

441. Consequential amendments.

442. Contravention of International Conventions.

Transitional Provisions

443.The Schedules.
444.Regulations for resolving transitional difficulties.
446.Short title.


An Act to provide for merchant shipping; and for related matters.


ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Administration of the Act

1. Administration of Act and delegation of powers

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Minister shall have the general superintendence of the matters to which this Act relates.

(2) The Minister may, by writing under his hand, delegate any of the powers or duties of a routine nature conferred on him under this Act.

(3) Any power or duty lawfully exercised by an officer, office or organisation to whom it has been delegated under subsection (2) of this section, shall be deemed to have been exercised as fully as if the power or duty was exercised by the Minister himself.

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as allowing the delegation of any power to make regulations or any order for the purposes of this Act.

2. Agency for Maritime Safety Administration

(i) The Agency of Government established and responsible for Maritime Safety, Ad- ministration and Security shall be the implementing agency for this Act.

(ii) The Minister may, from time to time give to the Agency, such general directions, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act or any regulations made under this Act on the policy to be pursued in the administration of Maritime Safety, as the Minister may consider necessary, and the Agency shall immediately take such steps as are necessary or expedient to give effect to the directions.

3. Returns as to merchant shipping, etc., to the Minister

All consular officers of Nigeria abroad, the Nigerian Ports Authority, officers of the Nigerian Customs Service and the superintendent of Seafarer Services Office shall make and send to the Minister such returns or reports on any matter relating to merchant shipping and seamen as the Minister may require.

4. Appointment of officers

There may be appointed for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Act such persons, in addition to any officer who may be appointed under any other provision ofthis Act, as may from time to time be necessary.

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