Shipping firms agitated over refund of N4trn illegal charges in 11 years
Shipping companies operating in Nigerian ports will refund about N4 trillion as fallout of the Court of Appeal verdict on illegal charges collected from importers in the past 11 years.
The Guardian gathered that the shipping companies are currently groaning and lobbying to wave the huge burden due to the verdict which declared the Shipping Lines Agency Charges, (SLAC), “illegal, ultra vires, and therefore, null and void.”
However, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) is strategising on modalities of collecting the money in line with legal provisions. The estimated amount is capable of turning around the ports facilities across the country, acquire digital technologies that can monitor containers and enhance efficient clearance of cargoes. This will transform Nigerian seaports to become a hub of the region.
Authoritative source in the Council confirmed to The Guardian that the management has carried out the N4trn estimations of the illegal fees and would stop at nothing to collect the money from the erring shipping companies, as it is currently examining the modalities of refund.
Already, the Council has secured the support of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Nigerian Police Force to enforce compliance with the judgment.
Justice Abimbola Osarugue Obasaseki-Adejumo, had in the judgment of the Appeal Court ordered the shipping companies to “immediately stop collection of SLAC” and to account for and pay to the Cargo Defence Fund of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council from 2006 to date the amount collected.
The shipping companies are also to make the refund at the interest rate of 21 per cent per annum “all monies and fees” collected during the same period. The amount when collected by the Council will in turn be paid back to the affected shippers whose money was collected illegally by the shipping companies.
An industry chieftain and Chairman, Dala Inland DryPort Nigeria Limited, Ahmad Rabiu, described the verdict as a remarkable development. He said this would restore sanity in the shipping business, reduce cost and drive more cargoes to Nigerian ports.
“These are the major things that have always made Nigeria to lose cargoes to neighbouring ports, because once it is exorbitant at home, people have to cut corners in order to reduce cost.’’
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