13 July 2013, Lagos – A Federal High Court, Lagos, Friday entered a consent order in the dispute between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG.
Justice Mohammed Idris gave the verdict after parties informed him they had reached an amicable settlement in the meantime.
NLNG’s counsel, Olawale Akoni (SAN), withdrew the contempt proceedings against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
The court subsequently struck out the contempt charge, and dismissed those of the other defendants, including the contempt charge against NIMASA, for being defective.
The letters, which formed the basis of the judgment, were dated July 5 and July 12, 2013.
NLNG and NIMASA agreed the agency will immediately revoke the detention order of NLNG vessels and release them.
The revocation will be subject to NLNG making the payments to NIMASA.
NLNG was owing NIMASA a total USD158million. The firm has paid $20million out of the total sum.
The July 12 letter said: “Subject to NLNG continuing to make payment for all applicable NIMASA levies (three per cent NIMASA levies and Sea Protection levy), NIMASA undertakes not to detain NLNG-owned or chartered vessels.
“NLNG undertakes to pay outstanding levies attributable to the FOB and Cabotage vessels if they fail to make payment within three months of the date of this letter.
“Going forward, NIMASA is at liberty to collect these levies directly from the FOB and Cabotage vessels without further recourse to NLNG.”
The letter, signed by NLNG Managing Director, Babs Omotowa, said the firm’s payments will continue to be made without prejudice to the legal rights of all parties to seek appropriate judicial interpretation and resolution up to any level allowed under the constution.
He added that NLNG has already made payment of $20million to NIMASA for the three per cent NIMASA levy.
“This sum will be deducted from the amount stated as due in your (NIMASA) letter.
“As agreed between NIMASA and NLNG, an oral application shall be made to the court today (yesterday) by our lawyers which shall not be opposed by NIMASA lawyers and other lawyers in the ongoing suit to allow for the above payments to be made,” Omotowa wrote.
After the case was called, NIMASA’s lawyer, Mike Igbokwe (SAN), informed the court about the agreement and asked that the letters be adopted by the court as consent order.
He said: “My Lord, there have been some positive developments in respect of this suit and the applicants which had let to exchange of correspondence and telephone discussions between the plaintiff (NLNG), the first defendant (Attorney-General) and NIMASA and which were conveyed to the second defendant (Global West) counsel.
“The discussions involved counsel for all parties. I have before me a letter dated 12th July 2013, written to NIMASA by the plaintiff containing the agreement that had been reached between the plaintiff and NIMASA which the Attorney-General and Global West had already been informed about.
“We have agreed that the contents of this letter which NIMASA and the plaintiff intend to start implementing today should form the basis of a consent order to be made by the Honourable Court.”
Akoni confirmed the agreement and did not raise any objections.
“On the basis of the letter, we urge the court to make a consent order. On behalf of the plaintiff, I confirm that the parties have had discussions and there have been exchange of correspondence,” he said.
Attorney-General’s counsel, Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), and Global West’s lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), both confirmed the agreement reached in the letter and did not raise any objections.
Ruling, Justice Idris said: “The letters dated July 5, 2013 and July 12, 2013 are hereby made the consent order of this court.”
– The Nation