…Shifts attention to N/Assembly
The Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) on Thursday announced its intention to withdraw the suit it filed against the Federal Government at the Federal High Court, Lagos on the wake of directive issued by former President Goodluck Jonathan on the 20th of April, 2015.
It will be recalled that former President Goodluck Jonathan had on 20th April, 2015 issued a directive that all oil and gas cargoes must go to the three Eastern Ports of Onne, Calabar and Warri being they are eventually transported to their ultimate destination adding that LADOL should relocate its operational base to Agge in Bayelsa State, a development which saw LADOL obtaining an injunction restraining former President Jonathan from implementing his policy directive through its counsel, Prof. Fidelis Oditah QC, SAN.
Addressing newsmen in a press briefing yesterday in Lagos, Prof. Oditah explained that following a clarification from the federal government contained in a letter from the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to LADOL conveying the review of the policy directive, and also asking the company to withdraw its pending suit against the federal government in order to ensure a litigation free environment in the maritime sector, the company has applied to the Federal High Court to discontinue the proceedings which it initiated in 2015 against President Jonathan and Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to Oditah,” As far as we are concerned, one of the conditions as contained in the letter I gave you, paragraph six of the letter says that the FGN in view of the above, that your company should withdraw the pending suit against the Federal Government in order to ensure a litigation free environment in the maritime sector.
“So, following that, LADOL as a law abiding citizen of the country has applied to the Federal High Court to discontinue the proceedings which it initiated in 2015 against President Jonathan and Federal Government of Nigeria as I pointed in my statement. So that application to withdraw the suit will be heard next week Tuesday, on the 6th of June. So, hopefully, on the 6th of June, the court will permit LADOL to withdraw the case in the interest of litigation free maritime sector unless a new case is initiated by INTELS itself. But as far as LADOL is concerned, the objective was simply to clarify the Federal Government policy and since that clarification has come, there is no need for us to continue the litigation”
On who bears the cost of the litigation now that LADOL is seeking to discontinue the matter, he said,” Of course, when you go to court and you withdraw a case, you have to pay the other party’s cost, meanwhile, you are entitled to your own cost because for whatever reason, you decided not to wait for the court to give a verdict, in a sense you have surrendered and when you surrender, you pay your own cost and you pay the other side’s cost. That is the normal rule. So, when you say what will happen to their own cost, of course, they will have to bear their own cost but if they don’t want to bear their own cost, we would have continue to see if we will win but you see in Nigeria, where you win, you don’t actually get much in terms of cost. So, lots of litigation cost is wasted cost because a successful litigant never recovers those costs from the adversary.
“But what is interesting in this case is that INTELS who we did not join in our case, because as I said, we sued the Federal Government, INTELS get-crashed into the proceeding uninvited, now, INTELS is telling us that we should pay them N10 million for their own uninvited joinder into the case. Of course, my position is that we shouldn’t pay them any cost for a number of reasons. First, we did not sue them, I can understand that if you sue someone and you force them to defend and you withdraw the case against them, then you should pay some of their costs, maybe not N10 million but something because you have taken them to court but in a situation where you did not take them to court, where they joined and you opposed their joinder, you said they should not join and they say they must join and the court says okay, let them join, that is a matter for them, they came uninvited, any cost they incurred and wasted is because of their own decision to join rather than my own decision to join them. If I had joined them, I will concede that I will pay them some cost, maybe not N10 million, maybe N50, 000 or N100, 000.
“If for example the federal Government of Nigeria says it wants cost which will be unusual, that is a different matter because we sued them but we did not sue INTELS, INTELS wanted to maintain its monopoly, on the contrary, INTELS should be paying our cost because the outcome is that the government has reversed the monopoly and therefore, we have obtained substantially, what we went to court to get and therefore INTELS defending the monopoly should pay our cost not the other way round. INTELS were not the victor in this case, INTELS was the chief monopolist, that was the only reason why it came, why did other members of STOAN not come to join? No one came because everyone was suffering from INTLES monopoly”.
He however disclosed that no concessionaire had contested the clarification made by the federal government touching on reform initiatives and implementation in designation of terminals except that when they were in court last week to withdraw the matter, INTELS opposed it telling to the court that they (INTELS) did not want them (LADOL) to withdraw the matter, which he described as laughable on the ground that LADOL sued the federal government and not INTELS which came on its own to be joined in the matter.
He pointed out that having won on the part of the Executive arm of government; the battle would now shift to the National Assembly to forestall any further effort at conferring monopoly status on any concessionaire through legislation as attempt was made during the 6th Senate to entrench such illegality adding that they were doing this not because of LADOL as a private enterprise but because it bothers on the general interest of Nigerians especially now that unemployment and lack of competition is threatening the business environment in the country.
NPA had on the 10th of May, 2017 written to LADOL on the review of the Presidential directive where it among other things, rejected the categorization of oil and gas multi-purpose cargo terminal as it said that act was alien to the relevant concession agreements and inconsistent with global shipping, reaffirm past presidential directives that all importers were free to choose any terminal or port for the discharge of their cargoes, subject to the presence of all the requisite regulatory agencies at such ports as required by extant regulations and in line with its policy of promoting competition and value for money.
“Consequently, any policy that designates certain ports by cargo type is hereby cancelled”, the letter read in part.
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