On 29th March 2019, the Court of Appeal, Lagos (in Appeal Number: CA/L/1241/2017 between NIMASA v. NLNG & 2 Others) set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court where it was held that NLNG is exempted from charges fees/taxes imposed pursuant to the NIMASA Act, Cabotage Act, and the Sea Protection Levy. Read our alert on the Federal High Court judgment at: https://adebiyitaxandlegal.com/court-nullifies-sea-protection-levy/
By an originating summons, NLNG sought the interpretation of the Federal High Court on whether NLNG is subject to charges imposed under the NIMASA Act. NLNG challenged the decision of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to subject NLNG to charges, fees/taxes imposed by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The Federal High Court in its judgment discountenanced the counter affidavit and written address filed by NIMASA on grounds that the written address formulated issues which were different from the issues contained in the originating summons. The Federal High Court also discountenanced the counter claim filed by NIMASA and held that while a respondent to an originating summons may competently file a counter claim, such a counter claim cannot formulate a new set of issues different from those contained in the originating summons.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, NIMASA filed an appeal to challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal and among other things, raised the following issues for determination:
(i) Whether the originating summons at the Federal High Court ought to have been converted to a writ of summons in view of the contentious facts relied upon by parties;
(ii) Whether NLNG can be heard to challenge the decision of the NSA having voluntarily submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the NSA;
(iii) Whether the Federal High Court judgment did not breach NIMASA’s right to fair hearing when it discountenanced the counter affidavit and written address of NIMASA on grounds that NIMASA’s written address formulated new issues different from those contained in the originating summons filed by NLNG;
(iv) Whether the Federal High Court breached NIMASA’s right to fair hearing when it discountenanced NIMASA’s Counter Claim on grounds that a counter claim to an originating summons cannot raise new issues different from those contained in the originating summons;
(v) Whether sections of the NLNG Act are unconstitutional and against public policy for fettering the legislative power of the National Assembly of Nigeria.
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