A Lagos Federal Court has fixed July 12 for ruling on the ongoing row between the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over alleged failure to pay some statutory charges to the Federal Government.
Justice Mohammed Idris will rule on two preliminary objections filed by a private firm, Global West Vessels Specialists, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit as well as the commencement of contempt proceedings. Global West was sued as an agent of NIMASA together with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Bello Adoke.
Canvassing argument for the objections, Global West’s lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko, urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that proper parties were not sued as defendants. According to him, the court had been denied of jurisdiction due to the fact that the suit was incurably defective.
“The Supreme Court has held in a plethora of cases that this kind of case cannot go on against us in the absence of NIMASA. The deliberate failure of the plaintiff (NLNG) to sue NIMASA is aimed at circumventing Section 53 (2) of NIMASA Act which mandates them to file a pre-action notice. At this stage, that error is fatal to the case of the plaintiff and it cannot be rectified by amendment,” he said.
Owonikoko added that NLNG failed to comply with the proper procedures, as same was served on one Romeo Itimi, who died in 2012.
But NLNG’s lawyer, Wale Akoni, said the case of his client was against the Federal Government and its agents, and that AGF could be sued in any matter involving the Federal Government. He insisted that the contempt proceedings were commenced in line with the rules of court.
Information from Leadership was used in this report.