A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday restrained Fabiola Trading Company Ltd, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Mr Moses Olayemi Fadipe, who is a coordinator of Port Standing Task Team of the Council from invading CMA CGM Nigeria Ltd’s premises with armed men to harass its employees.
Justice Peter Lifu made the order sequel to a September 27, 2021 ex-parte motion filed and argued by the counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Babajide Koku (SAN) in suit No: FHC/L/CS//2021.
The judge stopped both respondents from intimidating the employees “with a view to compel or coerce them into releasing the goods shipped by the 1st Defendant/Respondent under B/L NAM9246749 (Container Nos. TGHU1294951).
He held that the order stands “pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed but shall be served on the Defendants within seventy-two (72) hours.”
Justice Lifu, however, ordered the applicant to file an undertaking to indemnify the affected parties to the tune of N100million if it is discovered afterwards that the court was misled and that the order was unnecessary in the first instance.
He adjourned till October 21, 2021 for hearing of the said Motion on Notice.
The applicant backed its Motion on Notice with an affidavit deposed to by Oloruntola Sogunro Esq.
Sogunro averred that the 1st Defendant, under a contract of carriage between it and the Plaintiff’s Principal “Carrier”, shipped in one container TGHU1294951 from the United States to Nigeria.
“Prior to the above shipment, the 1st Defendant had earlier shipped in some goods under different BL’s into Nigeria wherein the 1st Defendant is indebted to the Plaintiff for over N20million being accrued demurrage for extended use of its containers and all efforts to get the 1st Defendant to pay the accrued demurrage for detaining its containers had proved abortive.
“The Plaintiff is backed by contractual and 3rd defendant’s enabling laws, and authorised to collect empty containers from importers and demurrage accruing from extended use of such containers alongside other relevant charges.
“That when the subject shipment covered by Bill of Lading NAM9246749 arrived in Nigeria, the Plaintiff relying on clause 13 of its contract of carriage evidenced by bill of lading NAM9246749 placed a lien on the new shipment and requested that the 1st Defendant pay the accrued detention charges on the previous shipments before the Plaintiff can issue a release of the subject shipment.
“That Clause 13 on the reverse side of the carriage contract evidenced by the Bill of Lading NAM9246749 gives the Plaintiff the powers to place a lien on future goods/cargoes of defaulting merchants to recover all charges where the merchant as in this case, the 1st Defendant, refuses to pay.”
He averred further that the 1st Defendant instead of abiding by the terms of the contract of carriage between parties, informed the 2nd Defendant, “who under the guise of decongesting the ports and relying on Executive Order NO.001 of 2017 issued by the then acting President of Nigeria, has been harassing and intimidating the Plaintiff and its employees to release to the 1st Defendant’s shipment notwithstanding the 1st Defendant’s obligations to the Plaintiff under the contract of carriage.”
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