Justice John Isoho of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Friday granted Intels Nigeria Ltd.’s application to be joined in a suit filed by Ladol Integrated Logistics Free Zone Enterprise and MCI FZE Yard Development Ltd.
The suit was filed against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Assembly, Federal Ministry of Transport and Attorney General of the Federation.
It seeks to restrain the passage and assent to the Bill for an Act to amend the oil and gas free zone.
The suit also seeks for an interim injunction restraining the defendants from enforcing the presidential directive that all oil and gas cargoes should be handled at Onne, Warri and Calabar ports.
The ports were designated to handle such cargoes since 2006.
In his ruling, Justice Isoho said the prayers of Intels Nigeria Ltd. were granted on grounds that the issues for determination touched directly on the business and financial interests of the company.
Another company, Associated Maritime Services (AMS), which also filed a separate application to be joined in the same suit and its prayer, was granted by Justice Isoho.
It will be recalled that Ladol and MCI filed originating summons and vide a Motion Ex-parte brought before Justice Isoho and obtained an order of interim injunction on May 12, 2015.
The order restrained the passage of the Bill for an Act to amend the Oil and Gas Free Zone.
It also restrained the defendants from enforcing a Presidential Directive that all oil and gas cargoes be handled at Onne, Warri and Calabar ports.
It will also be recalled that the former President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2015, issued a directive that all oil and gas cargo should be handled at designated terminals.
The directive came just as the National Assembly forwarded the bill to amend the Oil and Gas Free Zone Act to the president for assent.
The two efforts irked some stakeholders in the maritime industry who saw the moves as a design to put them out of business and to create an empire for a few stakeholders.
In reaction to the presidential directive, the maritime sector stakeholders have been up in arms kicking against the regulation.
They claimed that it had granted monopoly to Intels which had the concession to operate three terminals that handle oil and gas cargoes in Warri, Onne and Calabar ports since 2006.
The Nigeria Ports Authority and other government agencies had said that the concessions were made because of the risk of allowing private jetty operators to handle oil and gas cargo because of the delicate nature of the business.
In spite of the explanations, the battle to have a share in the business had not abated.
Several legal tussles, media war and protests which never considered the healthy implications of the presidential directive to the economy had been ongoing.
The acrimony also did not take cognisance of the revenue accruing to government and the need to amend the Oil and Gas Free Zone Act.
The legal tussles which had been on in the past seven months will continue as the case has been adjourned to Jan. 6, 2016.