Agbakoba , Atoyebi now in fresh Port levies Challenge
In what seems like a legal challenge, this week, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) accused the terminal operators of committing contempt of court by flouting the orders of Federal High Court directing them to stop further collection of arbitrary port charges and refund all illegal charges estimated at N150 billion.
In a press release issued by the lead Counsel to NSC, Olisa Agbakoba,SAN, the Council averred that “the mere fact that there is a pending application for stay and an appeal does not remove the effect of the judgment.”
Consequent upon a public notice issued by NSC, alerting port users on the need to stop paying arbitrary charges to terminal operators on the strength of the judgment delivered by Justice I. N. Buba of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos; the Counsels to the terminal operators, Messrs. Femi Atoyebi SAN and Ayo Olorunfemi had in a newspaper advertorial argued that the NSC was misleading the public and acted in contravention of court rules because they had appealed the judgment, presupposing that the terminal operators could continue the collection of the charges pending the determination of the appeal.
In Agbakoba’s statement entitled:” Terminal operators have no right to continue the collection of illegal charges,” NSC has called on the public to ignore the claims of the terminal operators through their Counsels, adding,” We have now filed an application before Mr. Justice I. N. Buba to compel the terminal operators to comply with the judgment pending the determination of the Application for stay of execution and to immediately refund the sum of N150billion illegally collected in disobedience of the judgment.”
According to the statement, ”the essence of the judgment obtained by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is for the overall good of the Nigerian economy. It is to stabilize prices and ensure more cargo throughput to Nigerian ports and stem the yearly loss of over N2 Trillion potential revenue to the Nigerian government caused by excessive and illegal port charges by terminal operators.”
Consequently, it added, ”this has led to diversion of cargo to neighbouring ports in the region, thus depriving the Nigerian government and economy about N2 Trillion potential revenue from port use every year. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council as economic regulator will continue to perform its statutory functions by ensuring that ports regulations are enforced”.