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Collection of Charges by Terminal Operators Illegal – NSC Lawyers

Legal representatives of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Messrs. Olisa Agbakoba and Babatunde Ogungbamila have declared that the collection of charges by terminal operators in spite of the pending appeal in the courts was illegal.
In an official statement, the attorneys stated that by the judgment of the Federal High Court, the continued charging and collection of the charges have been declared illegal. The Supreme Court, in Okafor v. Nnaife[1987] 4 NWLR (P. 64) 126 at 138, has held that a party whose conduct has been declared illegal in a judgment is not entitled in law to a stay which will empower him to continue with the illegality pending an Appeal.
“It is trite that the Terminal Operators cannot continue to impose and collect illegal charges on the pretext that they have refiled an application for stay at the Court of Appeal. Our attention has been drawn to Newspaper publications by Messrs Femi Atoyebi SAN/Ayo Olorunfemi, claiming that the Federal High Court “clearly acted without jurisdiction” in dismissing the Terminal Operators application for stay of execution and advising members of STOAN to continue with their normal business activities of charging and collecting the illegal charges pending the determination of the Appeal,” the lawyers said.
According to NSC lawyers, “Messrs. Femi Atoyebi SAN/ Ayo Olorunfemi claimed that the Terminal operators have the licence to continue the collection of the illegal charges because the dismissed application for stay of execution of the judgment has been refiled at the Court of Appeal. In essence, Messrs. Femi Atoyebi SAN/Ayo Olorunfemi are saying that the refiled application and the Appeal empower Terminal Operators to disobey the judgment.
We disagree with this position.
“It is now firmly settled that an application for stay of execution only prevents the beneficiary of the judgment or order from putting into operation the machinery of the law or the legal process of warrants of execution. Pending the determination of the stay application the Judgment debtors, the Terminal Operators, are required to obey the judgment and desist from any act that will undermine the integrity of the subsisting judgment. The mere fact that there is a pending application for stay and an Appeal does not remove the effect of the judgment. “
The NSC legal representatives further stated that in any event, the application to compel the Terminal operators to comply with the judgment and to immediately refund the sum of N150 Billion illegally collected in disobedience of the judgment pending before Mr. Justice I.N Buba has now been transmitted to the Court of Appeal. Stressing that: “We will seek accelerated hearing of the application at the Court of Appeal.” The attorneys noted that Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the economic regulator of ports will continue to perform its statutory functions by ensuring that ports regulations are enforced for the overall general good of the Nigerian Economy.

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