Ilogu: Why Nigerian Shippers’ Council cannot execute High Court judgment yet

Leading maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Chidi Ilogu has said that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) cannot execute the judgment delivered in its favour against members of the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) on Shipping Line Agency Charges (SLAC) yet because of a pending appeal.

Ilogu, who is the Counsel to ASLA said that members of the association, being dissatisfied with the Federal High Court judgment delivered on 17th December 2014 by Justice Ibrahim Buba, immediately filed a ‘Notice of Appeal’ challenging the entire judgment of the lower court.

He said the judgment is being appealed on the grounds that the NSC cannot perform economic regulatory role at the ports In Nigeria pursuant to a presidential directive which is inconsistent with the extant laws of the country Including the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Act and regulations made pursuant thereto; that the purported economic regulatory functions are ultra vires the powers of the NSC as presently stipulated under the enabling Act which has not been amended; and that the purported presidential directive, being Inconsistent with the NSC Act, is null and void and of no effect.

“In addition to the said Notice of Appeal, the Plaintiffs filed an application for a Stay of Execution and/or Injunction Pending Appeal.

“It is a trite principle of law as established in a plethora of cases that where an appeal Is pending and the applicant has applied for a Stay of Execution of the Judgment appealed against, the parties to the appeal are enjoined to maintain the status quo – being the subsisting position before the judgment of the lower Court,” Ilogu stated.

The revered lawyer said that the purpose of an application for stay of execution is to preserve the ‘res’ and “the parties are legally obliged to avoid taking any steps that may foist a fait accompli on the Appeal Court and render its decision nugatory given that the rights and obligations of the parties are yet to be determined to finality by the appellate court”.

He averred that the shipping companies and the shipping line agents were not collecting any illegal charges from port users as they are within the right to maintain the status quo.

“The NSC Is well aware of the pending appeal and application for stay of execution and has indeed filed a response to the application for stay of execution before the trial Court and same Is yet to be heard.

“Nigerian Appellant Courts have held that a party who has appealed and asks the Court for a stay, will not be held In contempt merely because he has not obeyed the order which he is appealing against or which he wants stayed or suspended pending the appeal.

“The Courts frown against any attempt by a successful party to preempt an application for a stay of execution of the judgment or even to pre-empt the appeal itself by accelerating or rushing the process of execution of the judgment so as to frustrate the exercise by the Court of Jurisdiction to hear the application or the appeal. See the cases of Mobil Oil Nigeria Ltd v. S.T. Assan (1995) 8 NWLR (part 412) (SC) and Ratisco (Nig) Ltd v. 5.G.S. (1990) 6 NWLR (part 158) page 610 para 5 (CA),” he stated.

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