JURISDICTION OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT – WHETHER THE MERE FACT THAT A HOUSEBOAT IS INVOLVED IN A SIMPLE CONTRACT AUTOMATICALLY MAKES THE SIMPLE CONTRACT A SUBJECT OF ADMIRALTY JURISDICTION
“The law is very well settled beyond any argument that the jurisdiction of a court is determined by the nature of claim before it. See Tukur vs Govt. of Gongola State (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt. 17) 517. In Onuora vs KRPC (2005) 6 NWLR (Pt. 921) 393 at 405 Paragraph 5 A – D, this court held as follows:-
“A close examination of the additional jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court in the section and by the 1979 Constitution clearly shows that the court was not conferred with jurisdiction to entertain claims founded on contract as in the instant case.
In other words, Section 230(1) provides a limitation to the general and all-embracing jurisdiction of the State High Court because the items listed under the said Section 230(1) can only be determined exclusively by the Federal High Court All other items not included in the list would therefore still be within the jurisdiction of the State High Court
In the instant case, since disputes founded on contracts are not among those included in the additional jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court that court therefore had no jurisdiction to entertain the appellant’s claim. The lower court therefore acted rightly in its decision that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the claim.” See Seven-Up Bottling Co. Ltd vs Abiola & Sons Bottling Co. Ltd (2010) 13 NWLR (Pt. 730) 469: Trade Bank Plc vs Benilux (Nig) Ltd. (2003) 9 NWLR (Pt. 825) 416 at 430 & 431. Section 230(1) of the 1979 Constitution is the same as Section 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In Adelekan vs ECU-Line Nv (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 993) 33 at 52, in a lead judgement delivered by Onnoghen JSC (as he then was) held:-
“The provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, hereinafter called the 1999 Constitution are very clear and unambiguous. It is the section that confers jurisdiction on the Federal High Court, which jurisdiction clearly does not include dealing with any case of simple contract or damages for negligence as envisaged by the action before the trial court”
The mere fact that a houseboat is involved in a simple contract does not automatically make the simple contract a subject of admiralty jurisdiction. See Texaco Overseas Nigeria Petroleum Company Unlimited vs Pedmar Nigeria Ltd (2002) 7 SC (Pt. 11) 222″.
PER P. A. GALINJE, J.S.C. in TSKJ NIGERIA LIMITED Vs OTOCHEM NIGERIA LIMITED LEC  SC. 118/2009 https://legalpediaonline.com/tskj-nigeria-limited-vs-otochem-nigeria-limited/