It is a criminal offence – Lawyer
The President of Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol has said that the recent introduction of new shipping charge, Port Additional Destination (PAD) charge by shipping companies may elicit a total withdrawal of services by combined operators in the maritime industry if not reversed.
Maritime lawyer, Emmanuel Nwagbara also said that poor legal system in Nigeria is responsible for delay in discharging matters related to maritime issues by courts even as he described the act by shipping companies as criminal and contempt of court.
Nicol spoke with our correspondent on phone over the weekend while Nwagbara spoke with our correspondent in his office in Lagos, last week.
The SALS boss said that Nigerians were not comfortable with the illegal charges emanating from the shipping companies and how operators were being forced to pay the charges.
He added that if the foreigners doing business in Nigeria could not cope with the laws of the land, they should pack their things and go away because according to him, Nigeria can survive without them.
In Nicol’s words, “Nigerians don’t like the way they are charging us and forcing us to pay.
“If they know they cannot obey the laws of this country, they should go away.”
He however wondered why the government is quiet in the face of all the illegalities being perpetrated by the foreign investors in the maritime industry even as he called for cancellation of concession agreement saying that the agreement is only bringing problems to Nigerians.
When asked the possible way to fight the anomaly he said, “The next thing we will do is to go through another protracted industrial action and this will be total and this is when the government will know that people ate suffering in this country,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Nwagbara blamed the delay in adjudicating maritime matters in the court to poor legal system in Nigeria citing the case between Nigerian Shippers’ Council, SALS and Terminal Operators and Shipping companies.
He said most of the judges have quite a number of cases before them to attend to on daily basis which according to Nwagbara might cause a delay in attending to them all.
He however said that the poor legal system has served as a loophole for the shipping companies to ridicule the courts and the justices of the courts in the country.
He adduced the recent charge by shipping companies is one of the barage of impunities that have characterised the attitude of shipping companies to the case in court.
Barr. Nwagbara said, “It is that same impunity that has characterised the attitude of the shipping companies to the case in court With all intent and purposes, it is geared towards disrespecting the court and ridiculing the parties that are involved in the case.
“Ordinarily, if a matter has not be decisively settled by the court all the parties involved should remain where they are,” he added.
He further revealed that the unilateral action in increasing charges while the matter is in court is criminal and contempt of the court.