TERRITORIAL WATERS ACT
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
1. Extension of limits of territorial waters.
- Jurisdiction in respect of offences committed in territorial waters.
- Restriction on trial of persons other than Nigerian citizens for offences committed in terri-
- Short title.
An Act to determine the limits of the territorial waters of Nigeria and for other mat-
ters connected therewith.
[8th April, 1967]
1. Extension of limits of territorial waters
(1) The territorial waters of Nigeria shall for all purposes include every part of the
open sea within twelve nautical miles of the coast of Nigeria (measured from low water
mark) or of the seaward limits of inland waters.
[1998 No. I.]
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing subsection, that subsection
shall in particular apply for the purposes of any power of the Federal Government to
make, with respect to any matter, laws applying to or to any part of the territorial waters
(a) in the definition of territorial waters contained in section 18 (1) of the inter-
pretation Act, for the words “thirty nautical miles” there shall be substituted
the words “twelve nautical miles”; and
[1998 No. I. Cap. 123.]
(b) references to territorial waters or to the territorial waters of Nigeria in all other
existing Federal enactments (and in particular the Sea Fisheries Act) shall be
(4) In subsection (3) of this section, “existing Federal enactments” means-
(a) any Act of the National Assembly passed or made before the commencement
of this Act or 26 August 1971 (which is the date of commencement of the
amendment to this Act), including any instrument made before 1 October 1960
in so far as it has effect as an Act; or
(b) any order, rules, regulations, rules of court or bye-laws made before the com-
mencement of this Act or 26 August 1971 aforesaid in exercise of powers con-
ferred by any such Act or instrument.
(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as altering the extent of or the area cov-
ered by any lease, licence, right or permit granted under any enactment or instrument
before the commencement of this Act or 26 August 1971 (which is the date of com-
mencement of the amendment to this Act).
- Jurisdiction in respect of offences committed in territorial waters
(1) Any act or omission which-(a) is committed within the territorial waters of Nigeria, whether by a citizen of
Nigeria or a foreigner; and
(b) would, if committed in any part of Nigeria, constitute an offence under the law
in force in that part, shall be an offence under that law and the person who committed it may, subject to sec-
tion 3 of this Act, be arrested, tried and punished for it as if he had committed it in that
part of Nigeria.
(2) Subsection (1) of this section-
(a) shall apply whether or not the act or omission in question is committed on
board or by means of a ship or in, or by means of a structure resting on the sea
bed or subsoil; and
(b) shall, in the case of an act or omission committed by a foreigner on board or by
means of a foreign ship, apply notwithstanding that the ship is a foreign one.
(3) For the purposes of the issue of a warrant for the arrest of any person who is by
virtue of this section liable to be tried in some part of Nigeria for an offence, that offence
may be treated as having been committed in any place in that part.
(4) Any jurisdiction conferred on any court by this section shall be without prejudice
to any jurisdiction (and in particular any jurisdiction to try acts of piracy as defined by the
law of nations) exercisable apart from this section by that or any other court.
(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as derogating from the jurisdiction pos-
sessed by Nigeria under the law of nations, whether in relation to foreign ships or persons
on board such ships or otherwise.
(6) In this section-
“foreigner” means a person who is not a citizen of Nigeria;
”foreign ship” means a ship of any country other than Nigeria;
“ship” includes floating craft and floating structures of every description.
3. Restriction on trial of persons other than Nigerian citizens for offences commit-
ted in territorial waters
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a Nigerian court shall not try a person
who is not a citizen of Nigeria for any offence committed on the open sea within the ter-
ritorial waters of Nigeria unless before the trial the Attorney-General of the Federation
has issued a certificate signifying his consent to the trial of that person for that offence.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section-
(a) shall affect any power of arrest, search, entry, seizure or custody exercisable
with respect to an offence which has been, or is believed to have been, com-
mitted as aforesaid;
(b) shall affect any obligation on any person in respect of a recognisance or bail
bond entered into as a consequence of his arrest, or the arrest of any other per-
son, for such an offence;
(c) shall affect any power of any court to remand (whether on bail or in custody) a
person brought before the court in connection with such an offence;
(d) shall affect anything done or omitted in the course of a trial unless in the
course of the trial objection has already been made that, by reason of subsec-
tion (1) of this section, the court is not competent to proceed with the trial; or
(e) shall, after the conclusion of a trial, be treated as having affected the validity of
the trial if no such objection as aforesaid was made in the proceedings at any
stage before the conclusion of the trial.
(3) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to the trial of any act of piracy as de-
fined by the law of nations.
(4) A document purporting to be a certificate issued for the purposes of subsec-
tion (1) of this section and to be signed by the Attorney-General of the Federation shall
be received in evidence and shall, unless the contrary is proved, be taken to be a certifi-
cate issued by the said Attorney-General.
(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as derogating from the provisions of
any other enactment restricting the prosecution of any proceedings or requiring the con-
sent of any authority to the prosecution thereof.
(6) In this section, “offence” means any act or omission which by virtue of section 2
of this Act or any other enactment is an offence under the law of Nigeria or any part
4. Short title
(1) This Act may be cited as the Territorial Waters Act.
No Subsidiary Legislation