October 17th:  Is the hearing Case Between Shippers’ Council, STOAN , ASLA, says Appeal Court 

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Executive Secretary Nigerian Shippers Council; Barr Hassan Bello• Chairperson, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria; Princess Vicky Hastrup

The on-going case between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and port terminal operators yesterday suffered yet another setback, as the Appeal Court sitting in Lagos again adjourned the consolidated case between the  Council and the duo of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and Association Shipping Lines Agencies (ASLA)  by five months.

The case which is supposed to be heard yesterday was adjourned to October 17, 2016, due to different applications filed by the appellants which the lead judge said the Court needed time to peruse before the commencement of the hearing in the case.

Amehnews recalls that the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos had in December 2014, ruled in favour of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the Port Economic Regulator and affirmed the legality of the Council’s position in price regulation and also instructed the port concessionaires to revert to the port charges that were approved in 1999. But the terminal operators filed an application for stay of execution at the Court of Appeal.

The lead Judge, Mrs. Uzoamaka Anyanwu had said last year that the Court was adjourning the case as a result of the backlog of pending cases it had to handle. She then adjourned to February 4, 2016 and again to May, 23, 2016 (yesterday) for hearing.

However, at the resumption of the case yesterday, the lead Judge, Mrs. Uzoamaka Anyanwu stated that there was need for the court to dispense away with the applications filed by the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and for the regularisation of the application by the Association of Shipping Lines Agencies, before a firm date could be given for hearing.

She however adjourned the matter to 17th of October, 2015 for the court to look into the applications so as to do away with any process that can delay on the process of adjudicating in the case.

On his part, Counsel to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barrister Emeka Akabogu, said that the process had been stalled by the technicalities relating to applications which have been filed in the case of the terminal operators by the appellants.

He therefore added that the court had asked for time to dispense with the several applications before the main appeal can proceed

Also respond to the development, Counsel to Shippers Association Lagos State; Barrister Osuala Nwagbara said the appellants in the case had objected to the joinder of the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) which he said they had alluded to the court of first jurisdiction.

Barr Nwagbara noted that the association has also opposed the application because they failed to do the right thing at the right time.

He said, “They filed a number of applications seeking for orders which I believe they intend to use to overcome the preliminary objection that was filed by SALS.

“They brought out this applications asking for a number of reliefs to be granted them by the Court of Appeal; we are opposing that application because the application seeks to describe a step which they did not take at the time which they should take it,” he added.

Nwagbara also disclosed that another reason the court adjourned the case is “for the remainder of this legal year, the court is no longer taking appeals apparently because they have taken so much that are awaiting judgment.”

“In the case of the terminal operators, the court has adjourned to take all applications filed by the appellants that are pending.

According to him, the first respondent , the NSC are ready to proceed with the case, but unfortunately, the appellants have filed further application which has the capacity of further stalling the hearing.

He stated further that in the case of the Shipping companies, the court has asked they should straighten all files which need to be straightened because the court is not satisfied with the application filed by them.

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