Court stalls Federal Government’s de-categorisation of ports terminals
The Federal Government’s plan to liberalise ports terminal operations may have hit a brick wall, as a recent court judgment ordered status quo ante on the matter.
Justice A.R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, issued an interim order directing the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and four others to maintain the status quo in a suit filed by INTELS Nigeria Limited on the de-categorisation of terminals at the nation’s seaports.
INTELS, which filed the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/417/2017 at the Federal High Court Abuja, is among other reliefs, asking the court to issue an order stopping NPA and other defendants including their representatives, agents or privies from implementing a proposed policy review.
The review purports to cancel the designation of ports and terminals in Nigeria having led it into committing huge human, financial, and material resources into developing five port terminals located in Calabar Terminal A, Warri Old Terminal A, Warri New Port Terminal B, Onne Port Federal Ocean Terminal A, and Onne Port Federal Lighter Terminal B.
The defendants in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Ports Authority, Bureau of Public Enterprises, and the Federal Ministry of Transport.
INTELS also asked the court to make a declaration that the five Lease Agreements it entered into and executed between the Plaintiff and the 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants (who executed same for and on behalf of the 1st and 2nd Defendants) in respect of Warri New Terminal, Warri Old Terminal, Federal Lighter Terminal B, Calabar Terminal A, and Federal Ocean Terminal A, all dated 24th October 2005 for 25 years renewable leasehold are still subsisting.
Other reliefs sought by the company include a declaration that the Defendants are duty-bound to honour, perform and fulfill their contractual obligations as stated in the five Lease Agreements all dated 24th October 2005 between the Plaintiff and the 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants acting for and on behalf of the 1st and 2nd Defendants.
It also sought a declaration that the Plaintiff has not in any way whatsoever and howsoever, breached, violated and or failed to perform any of its duties and obligations as stated in the five Lease Agreements entered into and executed between the Plaintiff, and the 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants acting for and on behalf of the 1st and 2ndDefendants.
It further sought an order of estoppel stopping the Defendants, their representatives, agents or privies from implementing the proposed policy review, which purports to cancel the designation of ports and terminals in Nigeria having led the Plaintiff into 3’’ party project financing agreements located at oil and gas designated terminals.
The Plaintiff also requested the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the Defendants, their agents, representatives or privies howsoever described from doing, directing, carrying out, executing or implementing any policy, directives, act or act, which are capable of diverting traffic, customers, sales, patronage or otherwise that would affect the spirit and intendment of the five Lease Agreements, revenue generation, profits, returns on investment and any other projection or projections of the Plaintiff made pursuant to the five Lease Agreements all dated the 24th day of October, 2005.
Justice Mohammed directed that all parties in the suit maintain status quo regarding the subject matter of the action pending the decision of the Court on whether it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit or not.
He adjourned the matter to 13th June 2017 for hearing of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants’ preliminary objections together with the Plaintiff’s Motion on Notice for Order of Interlocutory Injunction.