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INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS APPLICABLE TO NIGERIA

Nigeria is Federal Republic comprising a federal government, 36 State governments, a federally government governed Federal Capital Territory and 774 Local Government Areas. The nation is also an important member of the international comity of nations at the world, African and regional levels. Nigeria is member of the United Nations having been admitted on the 7th of October, 1960 as the Un's 99the member. It is a leading member of the African Union, AU and Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. In addition the country is a member of various multilateral and bilateral treaties/convention establishing various international bodies including Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, World Bank, African Development Bank, etc. It maintains a significant number of diplomatic missions and presence abroad.


Thus, the nation is defined by a robust international stakeholder profile which requires both municipal, cross-border, regional and international dispute resolution platforms. Towards satisfying the conflict resolution requirementa connected to its sovereignty and statehood, the Nigerian legal order recognises and upholds both municipal and international judicial institutions.


While municipal courts are creations of statutes pursuant to enabling powers vested by the nation's Constitution, international tribunals are only applicable in Nigeria in consonance with constitutional stipulations or to the extent of the obligation assumed by Nigeria through an international treaty or convention. Depending on the establishment treaty, the jurisdiction of an international tribunal may be criminal, civil or both.
 

In addition, sometimes, individuals connected to or resident in Nigeria may by contract obligate themselves or their performance of a certain investment or commercial activity under the jurisdiction of an international court/tribunal abroad even if its treaty is not binding on Nigeria.


Major international tribunals which jurisdiction extends to Nigeria include the ECOWAS Court, African Court of Justice, International Court of Justice, ICJ and International Criminal Court, ICC. Some international tribunals regulate specialized commercial activities including aviation, maritime, Sports, intellectual properties, internet and domain names, etc.  


NIGERIANS WHO ARE SERVING AND FORMER JUDGES OF INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS

The first Nigerian to sit on a major international tribunal was Justice Charles Onyeama – and he sat right on the highest court at the international, the International Court of Justice, ICJ between 1967-1976.

 

Following in his heels at the ICJ, in the same year he retired was Justice Taslim Elias who among others has been the longest Nigerian on any international Court, serving for 15 years (1976-1991) in various capacities including as the President of the Court. Justice Bola Ajibola completes Nigeria’s three shots, as yet, at the ICJ.

 

At the International Court of Justice, the recently elected Chile Eboe-Osuji is the first judge of Nigerian descent  on that Court. On 16 December 2011, he was elected as a judge of the International Criminal Court. He won the office in the fifteenth ballot in the Assembly of States Partieswith 102 votes. He is due to take office on 11 March 20.

 

On the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Nwanuri Thompson and Justice Hansin N. Donli, respectively, fly the Nigerian flag. They are also Nigeria’s first two female jurist to have full tenure on any international court.

 

International tribunals that are still awaiting their first Nigerian member include the World Trade Organization, the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Sea, ITLOS, the Court of Sports Arbitration and the yet to be operational African Court of Justice and Human Rights proposed to subsume both the African Court on Human and Peoples' Right and the African Court of Justice.

 

 

Name

Tribunal

Tenure

Position

1.

Charles Onyeama

International Court of Justice

1967-1976

Member

2.

Taslim Elias

International Court of Justice

1976-1991

Member, Vice President, President,

3.

Bola Ajibola

International Court of Justice

1991-1994

Member

4.

Chile Eboe-Osuji

International Criminal Court

2012-2021

Member

5.

Elsie Nwanuri Thompson

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

2010-2016

 

7.

Hon Justice Hansin N. Donli

ECOWAS Court of Justice

 

Dean

 

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