Counsel to the Seaport Terminal Operators’ Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mr. Femi Atoyebi (SAN) has taken a swipe at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) over a “misleading publication wherein the NSC itemized about nine issues purportedly decided in its favour” in the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered by Justice Ibrahim Buba on 17th December 2014.
In a statement he issued weekend, Atoyebi said that contrary to its claim in the said publication, NSC did not file any counter-claim in the matter relating to STOAN in suit number FHC/L/CS/1704/2014 and so the court could not have upheld same as claimed by NSC in the said publication.
“Secondly, the publication deliberately concealed the fact that the said judgment is subject of a pending appeal and that our clients also filed an application for a stay of execution of the judgment/injunction pending the determination of the appeal,” Atoyebi stated.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that his firm had cause in the past to write to the NSC “when it was apparent that they were making frantic efforts to ride rough shod of the judicial process” and threatening his clients to comply with their directives as from 22nd December 2014.
The action of the NSC, he said, is not only illegal but unacceptable and a cloaked attempt to foist upon the Court of Appeal a situation of complete helplessness “so that if our clients’ appeal succeeds, their lordships’ decision would have been rendered nugatory.”
Atoyebi stated that the law in Nigeria is that where, as in the STOAN vs NSC case, there is an appeal against a court decision and a motion for stay of execution or injunction is filed, none of the parties must do anything to frustrate the hearing of the appeal until the application has been heard and determined, one way or the other.
Citing several cases to support his argument, the highly respected senior lawyer said, “It is also trite that both the court from which an appeal lies and the court to which an appeal lies have a duty to preserve the ‘res’ so that the appeal, if successful, is not rendered nugatory.
“We consider that the NSC lawyers should have advised them appropriately of the correct position of the law and if they did, it would appear that NSC are refusing to follow the advice.”
He said that the publication by NSC in some national dailies last week, and any further step that may be taken by the Council in a bid to frustrate the pending appeal and foist on the Court of Appeal a situation of complete helplessness would be highly contemptuous of the court.
He said his firm would not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law on such persons as may have authorised the publication.
“We are by this publication advising our clients and the general public to ignore the illegal directives or any directive of the NSC premised on the said judgment as they are not bound to follow them until our clients’ pending application and/or appeal has been determined, one way or the other,” he added.—Ships and Ports