Maritime agencies’ funds: Igbokwe warns CBN, banks against undermining judicial process

Senior Maritime Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Igbokwe has warned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and all commercial banks operating in the country against undermining the judicial process by transferring the internally generated revenues of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the National Inland Waterways Revenue Authority (NIWA) into the Consolidated Revenue account at the CBN.

Igbokwe, who is the Counsel to Elshcon Nigeria Limited became necessary because his client has dragged the Minister of Finance, Attorney-General of the Federation and Accountant General of the Federation over the matter.

In the suit filed by Igbokwe at the Federal High Court Ikoyi on 12th March, 2015, Elshcon is challenging the powers of the Federal Government to direct the three maritime agencies to pay the internally generated revenue accruing to them or funds statutorily-provided for into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) at the Central Bank of Nigeria and to close all their revenue accounts in different money deposit banks across the country and beyond and to transfer same into the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

Igbokwe said the plaintiff had applied ex parte to the High Court for an order restraining the defendants from implementing or continuing to implement the directive, as it would be illegal to do so.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said he had written to NIMASA, NPA and NIWA advising them not to take any action or do anything, with respect to or in furtherance of the implementation of or compliance with, the Federal Government directives pending the determination of the matter by the Court so as not to “stifle or have the potential effect of stifling the exercise by the Court of its undoubted jurisdiction on our Client’s pending Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction and Originating Summons thereby destroying the subject-matter of the litigation before the Motion on Notice and Originating Summons are heard and determined as such would amount to an abuse of court process and acts that Courts frown at and that our client would be compelled to move the Court to set aside”

In a letter to the CBN and the banks, copies of which were obtained by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, Igbokwe said, “Our client instructed us late on 13/3/15 that pursuant to the aforesaid directives (the constitutionality and legality of which are the subject-matter of our client’s suit), your Bank had in assisting the defendants, started directing and putting pressures on all commercial banks to transfer into the Consolidated Revenue Fund at your Bank without their maritime agencies customers’ consent or authorization, all revenue or moneys generated by the maritime agencies being revenues or other moneys payable under the Constitution or Acts of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose, and to close such accounts at pains of debiting their accounts with your Bank if they failed to comply.

“This is an act calculated to pre-empt the outcome of, and stultify the exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court on our client’s reliefs pending before the Court and its duty to consider them on their merits so as to foist on the Court, a fait accompli.

“It is condemnable and against the rule of law. Therefore, your Bank should immediately desist from such acts otherwise our client would move the Court to ensure that the full weight of the law is brought to bear on you and your Bank since no person or authority is above the law or the Constitution of Nigeria.

“In the circumstance, we warn you and your Bank not take any (further) action or do anything, with respect to or in furtherance of the implementation of or compliance with, the directives in issue that would stifle or have the potential effect of stifling the exercise by the Court of its undoubted jurisdiction on our Client’s pending Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction and Originating Summons thereby destroying the subject-matter of the litigation before the Motion on Notice and Originating Summons are heard and determined as such would amount to an abuse of court process and acts that Courts frown at and that our client would be compelled to move the Court to set aside.”



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