20 June 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court Lagos in the matter between Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Attorney General of the Federation, Global West Vessels Specialists Ltd and NIMASA.
Earlier, the Management of Nigeria LNG had formally issued a demand notice for the sum of $315,598,823.29 judgment debt to NIMASA.
The sum represents the payments made under protest to the Agency by NLNG since 2013, as well as direct and shipping losses incurred by NLNG due to the initial 2-day blockade of the Bonny Channel by NIMASA in May 2013
NLNG demang sequel the decision on October 3, 2017, by the Federal High Court, Lagos that NLNG was not liable to make the said payments to NIMASA, and that all such payments already made by NLNG to NIMASA should be refunded forthwith.
However, NIMASA filed the appeal with an application to stay the execution of the judgment and restrain NLNG, pending the determination of the appeal.
The appeal and stay was filed even before receiving the Certified True Copy of the judgment 14 days after the judgment was delivered in line with legal provisions.
This proactive step of the Agency was taken to forestall any negative action, yet the NLNG ignored this court action and commenced a media trial.
In the grounds of Appeal by NIMASA’s legal team, the Agency complained that the learned trial Judge erred when in breach of NIMASA’s constitutional and fundamental right to fair hearing refused to consider and pronounce on its arguments, on the issues for determination and its counterclaim filed in opposition to the amended originating summons.
It also complained that the learned trial Judge erred in law in entertaining and granting the reliefs contained in NLNG’s amended originating summons wrongly used to commence the proceedings without converting it to a writ of summons, ordering pleadings and calling on the parties to lead oral evidence to prove their cases since their affidavits were irreconcilable in conflict.
The Legal team noted that the above grounds led to the error of the court which occasioned a miscarriage of justice to NIMASA.
NIMASA, however, stated that the demand of 101 billion Naira from it as the judgment debt by the NLNG, after becoming aware of the Agency’s appeal is wrong and considered an affront to Nigeria’s judicial system. NLNG should allow the law take its full course and stop the media trial of a dispute that is before the court.
According to the Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, “We feel there is an orchestrated publicity campaign to wrongly sway public opinion on the judgment.
“We, therefore, wish to reiterate that all levies and dues NIMASA collects are in line with the Act setting up the Agency which is later in time to the NLNG Act, which makes the payment of NIMASA’s statutory levies enforceable on all NLNG vessels”.