A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday adjourned until July 15 for ruling in a preliminary objection to a N100 million suit by the Nigerian Liquified Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA) against two associations over imposition of levies
Justice Lewis Allagoa gave the date after parties in the suit adopted processes.
The respondents in the suit are Nigeria Association of Liquified Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM) and National Association of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
The applicant filed the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/469/2022 through its counsel, Mr Dipo Torhukerhuo.
It is seeking declaratory reliefs against the respondents over collection of membership levies.
NLPGA is asking the court to declare that forceful collection of membership dues or other forms of levies by the respondents is high-handed, unlawful and a violation of its rights.
Torhukerhuo appeared for the applicant, while Mrs Lolade Animashaun and Femi Aborishade appeared for first and second respondents, respectively.
The court heard a preliminary objection by the first respondent (NALPGAM) challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case on grounds that its name is not juristic and cannot be sued.
She urged that the name of first respondent should be struck out from the suit.
The counsel argued that it was a fundamental defect which robbed the court of jurisdiction.
Counsel to the second respondent also adopted a written address urging the court to refuse an application for amendment of the name of the applicant.
According to him, the law does not allow substitution of a juristic person for a non-juristic person.
He urged the court to so hold.
In response, the applicant’s counsel argued that the respondents, having acted on the processes as filed in the said name, could not complain that same was not properly brought.
He adopted the originating processes and a counter-affidavit to the preliminary objection.
The counsel also adopted his application to amend the originating processes to reflect the correct name of the first respondent.
However, counsel to the first respondent objected to the move for amendment.
In the suit, the applicant is seeking an order of perpetual injunction against the respondents, restraining them from collecting, with or without coercion, any form of dues, levies or charges from its members.
It is claiming the sum of N100 million in damages against the respondents for alleged abuse and gross violation of the rights of many of its members.
It alleges that since June 2021, its members have been subjected to all forms of intimidation by the respondents to enforce collection of levies on all trucks loading at LPG Terminals across the country.
The applicant told the court that its members were not members of the respondents and should not be subjected to obligations imposed by them.
Meanwhile, the first respondent in its response, argued that NALPGAM and its members constituted over 75 per cent of the applicant’s membership.
According to NALPGAM, NLPGA is an association of stakeholders in the gas sector and not an umbrella body of traders in LPG.
On its part, the second respondent (NUPENG) claims that it did not impose any obligations, levies or taxes on the applicant and does not regulate the affairs the applicant, its members or any non-member of NUPENG.