Justice Buba Ibrahim of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Thursday refused a request for an order of interim injunction sought by an indigenous shipping company, Elshcon Nigeria Limited, pending the determination of a substantive suit challenging the powers of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to direct the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to pay their internally generated revenues 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 national treasury.
While adjourning the matter to the 25th of March for further hearing, Buba said he would not grant an interim order directing concerned parties to maintain status quo without their presence in court.
Speaking after the adjournment with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Mike Igbokwe (SAN) said the directive of the federal government to the maritime agencies was unconstitutional, illegal and should not be allowed to stand.
“The implications as we are concerned as the plaintiff is that if it is allowed to stand, funds will not be available for the use of these agencies.
“They will not be able to implement their statutory functions and that means the maritime industry will suffer, our businesses as maritime stakeholders will suffers. It is unconstitutional and illegal,” he said.
Igbokwe said the directive was contrary to Section 80 of the 1999 constitution, which allowed for special funds to be excluded from the CRF.
“The funds are for specific purposes such as the maritime funds, Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF), funds for Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN Oron and special funds for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the one created for the expenses of Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). If these funds are paid into the CRF, it would be contrary to what this special funds are set up for. So we are saying the moment that is done, they will not be used for what it is meant for.
“The directive should have excluded NIMASA, NPA and NIWA in line with their enabling laws,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated.
The suit was filed by Elshcon Nigeria Limited against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Accountant-General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance.
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