Two landmark judicial interventions were witnessed in the maritime sector last week where at two different courts judges upheld the rights of complainants to seek redress in law courts.
First was the case that was instituted last year by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) against APM Terminals and eight others over alleged arbitrary. The case came at the magistrate court in Apapa last week.
The second and equally important story was the one that was filed by the president of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents against the recently inaugurated Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders. The suit came up for hearing at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja; also last week.
The duo of NAGAFF and IMAN had sued APMT, Tin Can Island Container Terminal, Port and Cargo Handling Services (both concessionaires) and Mid Maritime, Migfo, Denca, Tha Shipping ,Sapid Lilly Pond Container Terminal(all bonded terminal operators ) for charging importers and cargo owners arbitrarily and for services not rendered. The Magistrate, Mrs M.A Ladipo in her ruling ordered both applicants and respondents to maintain status quo and refrain form embarking on any action that will breach the peace.
“The respondents are hereby ordered to refrain from collecting any unapproved charges form applicants or their agents which may lead to a break down of law and order pending the determination of the substantive suit”, the judgement which was sighted by Shipping Position Weekly read.
But in the case between Mr Amiwero and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders, the presiding judge ruled that the applicant had locus standi to seek redress against the CRFFN.
Mr Amiwero had gone to court to challenge the electoral process which led to the process of constituting the membership of the CRFFN after an election that was conducted by the Nigerian Shippers Council. After hearing the arguments of counsel to both the CRFFN and Mr Amiwero, the judge ruled that Amiwero had sufficient grounds to seek redress.
Hearing was consequently fixed for April.