The Nigerian Ports Authority and BUA Group are set for legal battle over alleged forceful takeover of the Port Harcourt terminal by the NPA.
BUA, an indigenous foods and infrastructure conglomerate, operates BUA Ports and Terminal, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In a statement obtained by Financial Street, BUA Group said it was ready to follow due process in protecting its rights against the recent decommissioning of its terminal in Port Harcourt by the authority.
The action was described by the maritime union and industry watchers as capable of undermining NPA’s concessioning pacts and internationally acceptable judicial and dispute resolution procedures.
NPA had claimed that the reason for the decommissioning of the BUA Jetty was as a result of unsafe facilities, which needed urgent repairs.
The firm, however, explained that it had on different occasions written the NPA for approval to perform remedial works on the terminal. It wondered why the authority refused to approve it, but hurriedly decommissioned the terminal despite the repair works required for the part of the jetty in question.
BUA accused NPA of failing to meet its obligations regarding the lease agreement and disregarding the injunction of the Federal High Court, Lagos, restraining it from terminating or giving effect to the Notice of Termination pending the referral of the issues in dispute.
It also questioned the NPA’s ditching of the pending processes of the International Court of Arbitration in Paris and taking the law into its own hands by taking possession of the terminal.
Declaring that it remained unshaken by the actions of NPA, BUA vowed to “vigorously defend its rights as provided under the agreement both in court and the arbitration proceedings” while remaining committed to the terms of the agreement.
The statement read in part, “Under the agreement, NPA has an obligation, among others, to dredge the port and repair the quay apron of the terminal which responsibility it has failed to perform till date.
BUA maintained that the repair required for the part of the jetty in question does not require a decommissioning or closure of the entire terminal.
According to the firm, the NPA management is determined at all costs to terminate the lease agreement notwithstanding the terms, which provides that parties should continue with their respective obligations under the agreement pending the resolution of the dispute.
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