Crisis Rocks Lagos Shippers’ Association Over N13bn Judgement Fund

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Crisis is currently rocking the Shippers’ Association of Lagos State (SALS), over a N13 billion judgement fund, part of a larger N3 trillion fund payable into the Cargo Defense Fund account (CDF).

The judgement fund, it was gathered, was a sum being expected from shipping companies and terminal operators as a refund from Shipping Line Agency Commission ( SLAC) and progressive charges.
However, speaking to LEADERSHIP about the crisis, the President of SALS, Leonard Ogamba, has refuted claims of his removal from office by the association’s Board of Trustees ( BoT), describing it as laughable.

Ogamba alleged that the BoT’s actions are driven by a N13 billion fund, part of a larger N3 trillion fund payable into the Cargo Defense Fund account as a judgement sum being expected from shipping companies and terminal operators being a refund of Shipping Line Agency Commission ( SLAC) and progressive charges.

He explained that the fund was an out-of-court settlement between APM Terminals and Nigerian Shippers’ Council as well as registered trustees of the association and belongs to only verified shippers’ across the country.

According to Ogamba, the BoT meeting of 11th June 2024, where he was purportedly removed was not properly constituted and illegal as he was not notified of the meeting.

“This BoT constituted themselves in 2008. Nobody knew that they were in existence. The record of the status report of the association was invalid, but immediately they heard that I signed the first N13 billion, being the judgement sum between APM Terminals Ltd, Shippers’ Council and Registered Trustees of Shippers Association of Lagos State, they woke up from their slumber.

“Their understanding has been negatively influenced. They have no idea where that judgment sum would be paid in, thinking that the money, which is about N3 trillion, belongs to them on the ground that they are entitled to 60-70 per cent of the money, with about 15 shipping companies involved.

“Cargo defence funds are limited by guarantee, meaning that even if you make N10 trillion profit, you cannot share it, and accessing the fund is by subscription. I am sure that none of these people paid that money. It is the money that shipping companies and terminal operators collected but ought not to have collected.

“In this circumstance, for you to have locus, you have to show evidence that you paid that money as a shipper. When the publication was out asking shippers to submit their bill of laden, only two submitted.

“The Nigerian Shippers’ Council had to go the extra mile to meet these shippers for these bills of laden, on the basis of which the money that they are now paying was determined. The Shippers Association of Lagos State represents the whole shippers in the country by virtue of that judgment.”

Ogamba stated that the same actors in the BoT had tried to bypass him and criminally sign the terms of agreement of the out-of-court settlement between APM Terminal Ltd and NSC on June 30th, 2023, but were refused by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council who insisted that only the incumbent president can sign, and they have been aggrieved since then.

He said a mediation agreement brokered by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council mandated a halt to SALS meetings until reconciliation. However, he accused the BoT of holding further meetings, including one where they purportedly removed him, two days just before a scheduled mediation meeting called by the NSC on June 13th 2024 as agreed, and which the BoT and their supporters failed to attend.