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NLNG loses bid to reaffirm restraining order against NIMASA

By on July 9, 2013

The Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited on Monday lost in its quest to reaffirm an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos restraining the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) from detaining its vessels over alleged failure to make some statutory charges to the Federal Government.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who turned down an oral application by NLNG’s lawyer, Wale Akoni (SAN), to that effect, also warned parties to desist from engaging in acts that could undermine proceedings in court.

NLNG and NIMASA had been locked in fierce battle over the issue of non-payment of certain statutory levies and charges, which NIMASA claims are due to it from NLNG.

Justice Idris, it would be recalled, had on June 18, in Suit FHC/L/CS/847/2013 between NLNG and Attorney General of the Federation and Global West Vessels Specialists, granted an ex-parte order restraining the defendants from charging, imposing, demanding or collecting the three per cent of gross freight earnings or any other sums further to Section 15(a) of NIMASA Act 2007 on all of NLNG’s international inbound or outbound cargo ships owned, contracted or subcontracted by it.

Both the AGF and Global West had last Friday moved separate applications seeking to discharge the ex-parte order on the grounds that the order was essentially made against NIMASA, which was not joined as party to the suit.

The AGF was represented by Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), while Global West was represented by Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN).

Ajogwu had contended in his application that NIMASA is a body corporate with statutory powers to sue and be sued in its own name and that its non-inclusion as a party was a violation of the principles of fair hearing.

Ajogwu had further added that the fact that the other side was not heard before the order was made was fatal to the case of NLNG.

He further contended that an order cannot be made against a person who is not a party to the suit as it is necessary that such party must be given the opportunity to present its case.

Besides, Ajogwu added that the dispute that gave rise to the suit was essentially between NLNG and NIMASA, and that the non-inclusion was a deliberate move by NLNG to circumvent the provision of Section 53(2) the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act of 2007, which makes it mandatory for an intending plaintiff to give the statutory body a 30-day pre-action notice.