Govt challenges court’s decision on deregulation

Justice05 May 2013, Lagos – The Federal Government has filed an appeal challenging the decision of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared the policy of deregulation of downstream sector unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The high court presided over by Justice M. Bello apart from declaring the deregulation by the government illegal also ordered the government not to fix and publish regularly the prices of petroleum products.

However, in the notice of appeal filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, representing other officials of the government joined in the suit instituted by a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Bamidele

Aturu, the government is challenging the trial court’s verdict on the ground that the court erred in law when it resolved the question of locus standi raised by the defendants in favour of the applicant.

Joined in the suit filed by Aturu were the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Petroleum Minister and Minister of Commerce and Industry.

The Federal Government in its notice of appeal dated April 10, 2013, urged the appellate court to hold that the trial court erred in law on the question of the locus standi of the respondent, “when it held that it is clear that under both the narrow interpretation of locus standi and the broader interpretation, the plaintiff was qualified to be accorded locus standi to sue in this matter.”

The government in its five grounds of appeal also contended that the trial judge misdirected himself when he held that “the combined reading of sections 4 and 6 of the Price Control Act and the Petroleum Act leaves no one in doubt that the control of and regulation of prices of petroleum products, among others, is a legal duty imposed on the Government of the Federation.”

It also argued that the court erred in law by declaring that by enacting the Price Control Act and the Petroleum Act, the government has made the economic objective in section 16(1)(b) of the Constitution in Chapter II justiciable.

The government added that the trial judge erred when it summarily granted the reliefs in the respondent’s originating summons, while he failed to consider and pronounce on all the issues properly submitted before him, adding that failure to do so amounted to a denial of fair hearing.

It, therefore, prayed the Court of Appeal for an order setting aside the judgment of the lower court and dismissing the respondent’s matter in its entirety or striking it out on the ground that the respondent lacks locus standi.
*Abdulwahab Abdulah, Vanguard

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