STOAN VS NSC: High Court judgement stands suspended, says Atoyebi

Leading maritime lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Atoyebi has said that Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos “clearly acted without jurisdiction” in ruling on a stay of execution application filed by the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) in a matter between the association and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).

A one time President of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) and a Senior Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Atoyebi said Buba’s ruling will not stand.

“The Judge clearly has acted without jurisdiction and in such a case, the law says his decision is a nullity and can be ignored, but it is also safer to apply to the Court of Appeal to review it.

“We have promptly filed a similar application to the Court of Appeal yesterday (Thursday). The reason it is a nullity is that it was a decision rendered without jurisdiction.

“It may interest you that we obtained a formal Notice of Entry of our appeal from the Court of Appeal and submitted it to his court with a sworn affidavit the day before, yet he went ahead with his ruling.

“Happily, we have nothing more to do with the judge in this case,” Atoyebi, who is also the Counsel to STOAN, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on Friday.

He said, “Once the judgement has been appealed and an application for stay has been filed at the appellate court as is the case here, the status quo would remain and so, the judgement stands suspended until the Court of Appeal decides the appeal by STOAN.”

He advised members of STOAN to continue with their business as usual, “just as things were prior to the offending Notice by NSC”.

It would be recalled that in his ruling on December 17, 2014 in a matter between STOAN and the NSC, Buba had affirmed the power of the Council to regulate economic activities at the nation’s seaports. But dissatisfied with the ruling, STOAN had filed an appeal against the judgement and also sought a stay of execution. But Buba, in his ruling on Thursday refused the plaintiff’s application for stay of execution on the grounds that it lacked merit. This was despite an objection by the STOAN Counsel that the judge had no jurisdiction over the matter since it had been filed at the Court of Appeal.

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