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OIL, GAS CARGOES SUIT: Federal High Court, Lagos, adjourns hearing for May 12 … As President, AGF are not represented by counsel

The suit
LADOL Vs. INTELS and five others came up Jan. 21 at the Fedreal High
Court, Ikoyi, Lagos State, South-West Nigeria before Justice Mojisola
Olatoregun-Ishola but was adjourned to May 12, 2016, for hearing.

While counsel
appeared for LADOL (Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base), INTELS (Intels Nigeria
Limited), and AMS (Associated Maritime Services Limited), respectively, the
first and fourth defendants, respectively,  –  the President, Federal
Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation  – 
were not represented by counsel.
 LADOL’s
 counsel informed the court that he has complied with the order of the court
made on November 6, 2015, to the effect  that he should file and serve on
all the parties the originating summons reflecting the names of INTELS and AMS
in the suit.
 He,
however, said that was done out of time and then craved the indulgence of the
court to move his application to regularise the irregular filing and service.
 The
court granted the application.
 But
when he asked the court for time to enable him file and serve his written
address to the originating summons, the court rebuked him, noting that he
should have filed and served the written address along with the originating
summons.
 The
court, therefore, granted him seven days to file and serve afresh the
originating summons and the written address on all the parties.
 Adjourning
the suit to May 12, 2016, for hearing, the court ordered that hearing notices
be issued to the first and fourth defendants – the President, Federal Republic
of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation, respectively.
It would be recalled that INTELS had scaled a major legal hurdle at the
previous sitting of the court.
In adjourning
the matter to January 21, 2016, on November 6, 2015,
Justice John
Isoho had granted INTELS’ application to be joined in a suit filed by Ladol
Integrated Logistics Free Zone Enterprise and MCI FZE Yard Development Limited.
 The
suit was filed against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the
National Assembly, the Federal Ministry of Transport, and the Attorney-General
of the Federation restraining the passage and assent of the Bill for an Act to
Amend the Oil and Gas Free Zone.
The suit also
sought for an interim injunction restraining the defendants from enforcing the
Presidential Directive that all oil and gas cargoes should be handled in Onne,
Warri and Calabar ports which were designated to handle such cargoes since
2006.
 In his
ruling, Justice Isoho said that the prayers of INTELS were granted on grounds
that the issues for determination touched directly on the business and and
financial interests of INTELS.
 AMS had
also filed a separate application to be joined in the same suit and its prayer
was granted by Justice Isoho.
It will be
recalled that LADOL and MCI filed originating summons and vide a motion
ex-parte brought before Justice Isoho and obtained an order of interim
injunction on May 12, 2015.
 The
order restrained the passage of the Bill for an Act to Amend the Oil and Gas
Free Zone, as well as restrained the defendants from enforcing a Presidential
Directive that all oil and gas cargoes be handled at Onne, Warri and Calabar
ports.
 It will
be recalled that Nigeria’s then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in April
2015, issued a directive that all oil and gas cargoes should be handled at
designated terminals, just as the National Assembly had forwarded to the
President for assent a Bill to Amend the Oil and Gas Free Zone Act.
 The two
efforts irked some stakeholders in the maritime industry who perceived the
moves as designed to snuff out their businesses and to create an empire for a
few stakeholders.
Consequent to
that Presidential Directive, certain maritime industry stakeholders have
vehemently been kicking against the regulation, claiming that it had granted
monopoly to INTELS, which had secured concessions to operate three terminals
that handle oil and gas cargoes at the ports in Warri, Delta State; Onne,
Rivers State; and Calabar, Cross River State, respectively, since 2006.
The three
ports are located in Nigeria’s South-South geopolitical zone.
 Notably,
in spite of the explanations by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other
government agencies on why the concessions were made, and the issue of the
inherent high risk of allowing private jetty operators to handle dangerous
cargoes such as oil and gas, the strident debate to have a share in the
lucrative business rages in various forms, including legal tussles and media
wars.

However,
industry analysts have persistently counselled that prime consideration should
be given to the healthy implications of the Presidential Directive to the
economy of the nation, particularly the matter of the revenue accruing to
government.

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