Port charges suit: We are open to amicable settlement–Bello
Bello, Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council
The Nigerian Shippers Council, the nation’s economic regulator for the port industry has said it is not opposed to an amicable and out of court settlement in the two separate suits instituted against it by the Shipping Agents Association and Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria STOAN.
Recall that the shipping agents and terminal operators instituted the suits to challenge the council’s decision to reverse the introduction of additional charges on port service users, which the council said were arbitrary and therefore illegal.
Executive Secretary/CEO of the council, Barrister Hassan Bello, who spoke in an exclusive interview in Lagos, noted that as a regulator, the council’s primary duty is to protect the interest of both the service providers and users of these port services.
He also said that the process of settlement of any rift either between the different service providers and users on the one side and the council and stakeholders on the other part should not be adversarial.
According to him, it is in the light of this, that the council will ensure that it supports any move to amicably settle any rift involving it and any segment of the stakeholders in the course of their operations at the ports.
He argued that as a regulator, what is paramount to it is protecting the interest of Nigeria’s economy as well as that of the industry stakeholders whether they are service providers or users.
“There were efforts to settle out of court before now and we are totally in support of it because the whole thing should not be adversarial. But we also like the various court pronouncements because they will help the various parties to structure out issues”, Bello said.
While commenting on the recent judgement of the Appeal Court, which upheld an earlier judgment of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, which held that the council was legally set up, having been appointed by the Federal Executive Council, which was duly gazetted, thus giving it the force of law, Bello said the council was satisfied with the development.
He argued that the court pronouncements have been able to help the stakeholders identify responsibilities, which is good and a healthy development for the industry.
The Federal High Court had therefore held that the council was duty empowered to regulate port charges in the nation’s port industry.
The appellate court had also upheld the decision of the lower court, a development the stakeholders said was good for the industry.