The indicted shipping firms ordered by the Court of Appeal to refund the sum of N4 trillion being accruals from the illegal Shipping Lines Agency Charges (SLAC) collected from shippers from 2006 till date has started lobbying the Federal Government for settlement while setting aside the judgement.
TheNewsGuru.com gathers that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), which has also been pressured by the multinational firms to prevail on the Federal Government to set aside the judgement, has commenced the process of filling judgement to ensure full enforcement.
However, the interpretations of some aspect of the judgement could serve as precedence to render the executive orders of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo null and void, a development capable of creating anarchy in the country.
Meanwhile, the Council has also received the backing of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Nigerian Police Force(NPF) to enforce compliance among erring service providers in the shipping industry.
The court re-established the powers of NSC to regulate and negotiate tariff in the port industry, explaining that no tariff must be fixed or collected arbitrarily in the industry without the approval of the Council.
According to the court judgement, the “ the unilateral introduction and imposition of the shipping Line Agency Charges(SLAC) by the Appellant and collection of same from shippers or users shipping/port services from 2006 to date is illegal, ultra vires and therefore null and void.”
Consequently, the shipping firms were directed to stop the collection and account for the total sum already collected for a refund with interest paid at 21 per cent.
In complying with the court directive, the Council has said that the sum to be refunded by the shipping firms is N4 trillion, a figure a arrived at after a thorough calculation from the cargo throughput provided the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Reacting to the development, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello said that getting judgement in favour of the Council is not the issue, but ensuring that investors get returns on the their investment.
Bello told newsmen that the most important thing is the interpretation of the law, adding that it was not about the money to the paid by anybody.
In his words: “We are still working with the shipping firms, we were at a meeting to with Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on how both the Council and its stakeholders can grow the economy.
“Who won or lost the case is immaterial, the most important thing is that they have the right to go Court to seek for the interpretation of the law because they need the certainty and practicability.”