Shipping Charges: Legal Fire Works Shift to Appeal Court as Judge dismisses Application for Stay of Execution

The Ikoyi Federal High Court Thursday dismissed the application for stay of execution filed by the Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) on the judgment by the court that the association had no right to increase port charges.

It would be recalled that the terminal operators had applied for stay of execution after the judgment and had also gone to the Court of Appeal.

On the other hand, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) had equally in an application asked the court to compel the association to comply with the first judgment.

NSC wants the court to direct the terminal operators to refund the sum of N150 billion allegedly collected in disobedience of the judgment.

Mr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, lead counsel to the NSC had argued that the fact that the terminal operators applied for stay of execution and went to the Court of Appeal, was not enough to stop them from obeying the earlier judgment.

He argued that the terminal operators should comply with the judgment pending the determination of the application for stay of execution.

But STOAN’s counsel, Mr Dayoola Johnson, had drawn the attention of the court that there was a record of appeal before the court quashing the jurisdiction of the court to continue hearing the case.

In dismissing the application from the association, Justice Ibrahim Buba, said that there was no evidence to show that the judgment given earlier by the court was executed.

He granted the interlocutory application filed by NSC, compelling STOAN to comply with the judgment earlier given.

He explained that interlocutory injunction was meant to protect legal rights.

Buba said that the affidavit of records which was filed by STOAN, was filed on March 18, after the court had adjourned to rule on the application for stay of execution.

He ruled that all pending application should go to the Court of Appeal.
The Counsel to the terminal operators, Mr Femi Atoyebi and the Shipping Companies had on the last adjourned date notified the court that they had entered an appeal at the Court of Appeal quashing the rights of the court to hear the matter.

But Buba, had, however, ruled that there was no record or evidence of transmission of appeal before the court.

Buba, had adjourned to rule on the stay of execution earlier filed by STOAN.

On the case of stay of execution filed by shipping companies, the court on the last adjournment ruled that the notice of appeal was duly filed and there were records before the court that appeal has been entered at the Appeal Court.

Buba, therefore, stayed further proceedings on the matter pending the determination of the application before the Appeal court.

The court had on Dec. 17,  2014 stopped the collection of some charges by the terminal operators and shipping companies.

The court had also ordered the shipping companies to refund the amount collected since 2006 from the importers.
The court also affirmed the appointment of the NSC as the Economic Regulator of the ports and ordered that the shipping companies should account and pay to Nigerian shippers all monies or fees charged and collected since 2006 as SLAC from shippers.