More facts have emerged on the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the status on Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) as economic regulator of the port.
Details of the judgment delivered on June 21, 2017 obtained exclusively by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY reveals that contrary to the claim made by NSC’s lawyers, the Appeal Court actually nullified the appointment of Nigerian Shippers’ Council as economic regulator of the port. This ruling means that the NSC can no longer interfere in port operations in the country.
In its ruling on a matter between the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) and the NSC, the appellate court said that an order made by former President Goodluck Jonathan and the regulation made by the Minister of Transport Idris Umar in 2015 appointing NSC as the port economic regulator were inconsistent with the provisions of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act and NSC Act.
The court ruled that any appointment of NSC as economic regulator can only be made by amending the NSC Act and the NPA Act.
The court further held that the President has no power pursuant to Sections 5 and 148 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to issue a subsidiary regulation or order that is contrary to a law validly made by the National Assembly as the executive powers of the President under Section 5 of the Constitution is to administratively implement laws made by the National Assembly.
The court in agreeing with the argument of ASLA’s counsels held that the power to regulate the port including economic regulation lies with NPA pursuant to the NPA Act and any power of the president to appoint an economic regulator ought to have taken into cognisance provisions of the NPA Act.
“The effect of the pronouncement is that the 2015 Presidential Order and the 2015 Ministerial Regulations appointing NSC as Economic Regulator are no longer valid in law and cannot be relied upon by NSC.
Going forward, the regulatory functions of the port are now resided in the Nigerian Ports Authority,” said ASLA lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Chidi Ilogu.
The Court of Appeal also ruled that a public notice issued by the NSC on Wednesday 29th October 2014 directing shipping companies who are members of ASLA to reverse their Shipping Line Agency Charges (SLAC) is null and void and of no effect having failed to comply with the provisions of Section 3(f) of the Shippers’ Council Act and Paragraph 2(1) NSC (Local Shipping Charges on Imports and Exports) Regulations 1997.
The Court further granted perpetual injunction against the NSC from implementing and enforcing the contentious public notice, which led to the court case.
However, as earlier reported by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, the court held that SLAC is illegal and that ASLA members should account and pay same to the Cargo Defence Fund established by NSC pursuant to Section 7 of the NSC Act.
The court also said that the Shipping Association of Lagos State (SALS), which joined the matter at the Federal High Court, is not a necessary party in the matter and ought not have been joined in the matter and consequently struck out its name from the suit.