Justice minister wants court to vacate order in suit against NIMASA

By The Rainbow

Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mister Mohammed Adoke, has filed an application seeking to discharge an order of a Federal High court against the Federal Government in a suit instituted by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) over the non-payment of levies to NIMASA.

In an application filed on behalf of the Attorney General by Doctor Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), Adoke submitted that the order of court was essentially made against NIMASA. In that suit, however, NIMASA was not listed as a defendant.

The Attorney General said he was not a party to the dispute between NLNG and NIMASA and therefore no cause of action warranted the grant of the ex-parte order against him.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, had on June 18, 2013, in a suit between the NLNG and Attorney General of the Federation and Global West Vessels Specialists, granted an ex-parte order restraining the defendants from charging, imposing, demanding or collecting the three per cent gross freight earnings or any other sum further to Section 15(a) of NIMASA Act 2007 on all of NLNG's international inbound or outbound cargo ships owned, contracted or subcontracted by it.

Ajogwu argued that  that NIMASA, being a corporate body with statutory powers to sue and be sued in its own name, its non-inclusion as party, was a violation of the principles of fair hearing. He further contended on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation that an order cannot be made against a person who is not party to the suit, as it is necessary that such party must be given the opportunity to present his case.

The application further stated that the dispute, which gave rise to the suit was essentially between NLNG and NIMASA, and that NIMASA's non-inclusion was a deliberate move by NLNG to circumvent the provision of Section 53(2) of NIMASA Act, 2007, which makes it mandatory for an intending plaintiff to give the statutory body a 30-day pre-action notice.

The AGF also contended that 'the reliefs granted the plaintiffs ex-parte were indeed, in form and substance, essentially the reliefs being sought in the substantive suit,' and that the court would not have granted the ex-parte order if not for the misrepresentation, concealment and non-disclosure of material facts by NLNG.

Finally, the application stated that there was no urgency whatsoever by NLNG, let alone extreme urgency warranting the granting of the ex-parte orders against the Federal Government and NIMASA.

He therefore urged that NIMASA be given an opportunity to present its own side of the case and that the ex parte order be vacated.

The application is fixed for hearing on July 4.