The Lagos division of the Appeal Court has struck out an objection filed by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), challenging the decision of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to appeal against the refusal of the Federal High Court to discharge an order of interim injunction against the Agency.
The said interim order made by Justice Mohammed Idris had specifically ordered NIMASA to stop the blockade of NLNG vessels.
The vessels were blocked over alleged failure to pay statutory levies due to the Federal Government through NIMASA by NLNG.
However, in a bench ruling delivered on the spot on the case with reference number CA/L/849M/2013 on 23/01/2014, the Appeal court presided by Justice Sidi Bage, with Justices Rita Pemu and Chinwe Iyizoba, held that all necessary materials like the ruling appealed against and the notice of appeal of NIMASA were not placed before it by the NLNG saying the objection was premature and it could not stand.
The appellate court consequently overruled the NLNG and threw out its objection.
Counsel to NIMASA, Mike Igbokwe (SAN) had countered the objections of NLNG on the grounds that the company failed to attach to its objection the necessary materials such as the ruling being appealed, notice of appeal and NIMASA’s motion on notice, arguing that these are essential materials the Court of Appeal must consider in deciding its objection.
Igbokwe argued that by referring to these essential materials in its arguments, the NLNG was flirting with and veering into the domain of facts which it could not properly do without an affidavit in support of the objection to which it must have attached the essential materials.
While arguing that it was premature for the NLNG to object to NIMASA’s appeal when the appeal had not yet been entered in the Court of Appeal, Igbokwe opined that NIMASA did not require the leave of court to file the appeal because it was constitutionally appealing as of right against the refusal of the Federal High Court to discharge the order of interim injunction made against it.
Counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation, Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) and that of Global West Vessel Specialists Limited, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) both aligned themselves with the arguments of Igbokwe.