The Federal Court of Appeal, Lagos, has adjourned a case between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), over port charges, till Feb. 4, 2016. The Presiding Judge, Mrs Uzoamaka Anyanwu, said that the court adjourned the case as a result of the backlog of pending cases the court had to handle.
COURTnewSTOAN had earlier filed a suit against the NSC over restriction of increase in progressive storage charges and reversal to what obtained in May 2009.
The suit was struck out on technical grounds by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos. The court in December 2014, consequently upheld the status of the NSC as the economic regulator of the seaports.
Justice Buba also ordered STOAN and Association of Shipping Lines Agencies (ASLA) to revert to the various charges as obtained in 2009 and, as directed by the NSC. The court ordered ASLA and STOAN to refund excess revenue made from 2009 to date to the Cargo Defense Fund.
Meanwhile, counsel to the second defendant, the Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS), Mr Osuala Nwagbara, said he would be glad if the date of hearing was brought forward.
Nwagbara said his client was suffering because STOAN and ASLA were still collecting the charges. Counsel to the NSC, Mr Emeka Akabogu, expressed dissatisfaction with the long adjournment, saying that he would meet his client (NSC) on the next step to take.
Akabogu said the counsel to the Appellant (STOAN), Mr Femi Atoyebi, failed to file the appellant’s brief as ordered by the court since the last adjournment. “We are not satisfied with the long adjournment, we are going to meet with our client on the steps we are going to take,” the lawyer said. Akabogu noted that the case was an urgent national matter and it deserved outmost urgency by the court.
However, counsel to ASLA, Mr Chidi Ilogu said the court was not ready to take the matter because it had a crowded list of cases. “It is because of the circumstances. We do not have a choice than to accept that date,” Ilogu said.