By Steve Agbota
The Federal High Court (FHC), Abeokuta has declared as illegal the seizure of 24 tankers fully loaded with 50,000 litres of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as Petrol by the Idiroko border command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
In a judgement delivered by Justice Shittu Abubakar on August 9, 2022, and a copy exclusively made available to Daily Sun, the court ordered the Customs service to pay the plaintiffs the monetary value of all the said Petroleum Product (PMS) contained in the 24 tanker trucks of 50,000 liters capacity each.
Olamitide International Limited; Tonifans Nigeria Limited; Olafems Oil & Gas Limited; Joffy A. A Petroleum Limited; Whabisco Oil Petroleum Limited; Vicket Petroleum Nigeria Limited; Mikenid Petroleum Nigeria Limited and Registered Trustees of Ipokia -Idiroko Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria had sued the NCS over 24 tanker trucks loaded with petroleum products that were seized by the service on November 10, 2019.
According to the plaintiffs’ councel, George Oyeniyi, the court ordered the Customs Service to immediately release the 24 tanker trucks of petroleum products with their respective content of PMS illegally seized and impounded by the service.
The counsel said that the court ordered the following, “the purported auction and or sale and/or transfer of the said 5 out of the 24 tanker trucks loaded with Petroleum product unlawfully seized, impounded and purportedly auctioned by the agents of the defendants on the 10th day of November, 2019 presently kept at the custody of the defendants commanded at Idiroko, Ogun State is hereby set aside.
“That the defendants be and are hereby ordered to pay the Plaintiffs the monetary value of all the said petroleum product contained in the aforesaid 24 tanker trucks of 50,000 liters capacity each (whose particulars are contained in the Schedule (B) attached), unlawfully seized and impounded by the agents of the defendants on November 10, 2019 at the usual selling price per liter for all the content of the said five tanker trucks.”
“That the defendants are, hereby, ordered to immediately release to the plaintiffs all the aforesaid 24 tanker trucks of petroleum products with their respective content of PMS illegally seized and impounded by agents of the defendants on November 10, 2019.”
“That the defendants are also ordered to immediately return and or refund a total sum of N6.4million cash illegally confiscated and taken by agents of the defendants from the 2nd plaintiff, Tonifans Nigeria Limited, Filing Station, located at old Customs Road, Opposite Catholic Church, Idiroko, Ogun State on November 10, 2019. That the defendants shall pay the sum of N20 million and N2 million only as general damages and cost of this action respectively.”
The court, also declared that the circular upon which the service premised its decision was a mere administrative directive that lacks any force of law.
The counsel said, “the Court declared the unlawful act of the Custom officers acting in concert with Soilders of the border drill leading to the seizure and impoundment of the said 24 tanker trucks ultra vires the circular dated November 6, 2019 issued by Custom CG. That the content of the circular merely directed suspension of sale of PMS from filling stations located between 20 kilometers to the border. Also, that the circular was a mere administrative directive and same lacks any force of law.”
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