STOAN vs NSC: status quo remains for all port charges – Atoyebi

Maritimefirstnewspaper on March 23, 2015


Port users and critical stakeholders may continue to pay charges, as obtained in the past, in spite of the recent high court judgment in the case between the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) if the legal opinion of the counsel to the seaport terminal operators was something to hold on to.

The STOAN leading lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Atoyebi, specifically observed that Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos “clearly acted without jurisdiction” in his ruling, particularly, on the issue of a stay of execution application filed by the STOAN .

The one time President of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) and Senior Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Atoyebi made the clarification, explaining why Buba’s ruling would not stand.

“The Judge clearly has acted without jurisdiction and in such a case, the law says his decision is a nullity and can be ignored, but it is also safer to apply to the Court of Appeal to review it.

“We have promptly filed a similar application to the Court of Appeal yesterday (Thursday). The reason it is a nullity is that it was a decision rendered without jurisdiction.

“It may interest you that we obtained a formal Notice of Entry of our appeal from the Court of Appeal and submitted it to his court with a sworn affidavit the day before, yet he went ahead with his ruling.

“Happily, we have nothing more to do with the judge in this case,” Atoyebi indicated on Friday.

“Once the judgement has been appealed and an application for stay has been filed at the appellate court as is the case here, the status quo would remain and so, the judgement stands suspended until the Court of Appeal decides the appeal by STOAN”, he posited further, advising members of STOAN to continue with their business as usual, “just as things were prior to the offending Notice by NSC”.

It would be recalled that in his ruling on December 17, 2014 in a matter between STOAN and the NSC, Buba had affirmed the power of the Council to regulate economic activities at the nation’s seaports. But dissatisfied with the ruling, STOAN had filed an appeal against the judgement and also sought a stay of execution. But Buba, in his ruling on Thursday refused the plaintiff’s application for stay of execution on the grounds that it lacked merit. This was despite an objection by the STOAN Counsel that the judge had no jurisdiction over the matter since it had been filed at the Court of Appeal.

The effort of the Maritime First to the obtain the Shippers Council position through one of their counsel’s, Barrister Emeka Akabogu proved abortive, as he was in a meeting.

The image-maker of the Council, Ig. Nweke, while highlighting the preparedness of the management to protect the economic interest of the Nigerian business class, however assured that, the Council as a law-abiding organization, would always abide, by the dictates, from the court.