The crisis rocking the Nigeria Shipowners Association, NISA, appears to have assumed a drastic dimension as one of the suspended members and his company, Capt Kola Raheem and Kotram Nig Ltd, has instituted a N5million fundamental human rights enforcement suit against Jubril Rowaye, the Association WhatsApp Platform Admin and Trustees of the Association, in the Suit No FHC/L/CS/1853/2023 pending before Hon. Justice Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos.
Capt Raheem, the suspended member and his company alleged that Mr. Jubril Rowaye, 1st Respondent, acting on the instruction of the Trustees Of the Association, 2nd Respondent, witch-hunted, oppressed and removed him, Capt Kola Raheem, 2nd Applicant, from the WhatsApp Platform for forwarding a congratulatory message of the then Minister of Marine and Blue Economy designate to the Association WhatsApp Platform.
The Applicants argued that their removal did not follow due process and that the acts of the ‘Respondents’ constitute an infringement on their right to freedom of expression and association, having placed the Applicants in a state of public ridicule by the said action.
The applicants, Kotram Nig Ltd and Capt Kola Raheem, are seeking other reliefs among which are:
A declaration that the unlawful exclusion and removal of Applicants by 1st Respondent’s under the instruction of 2nd Respondent from the Nigeria Shipowners Association whatsApp platform was illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and a breach of Applicants’ fundamental human rights of expression protected under Sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;
b) A declaration that Respondent failed to avail Applicants fair hearing before removing and excluding them from the Nigeria Shipowners Association WhatsApp platform;
c) An order of this Honourable Court directing, mandating and/or compelling the Respondents, their staff, agents, employees, Servants, officers forthwith to unconditionally re-admit Applicants back to the Nigeria Shipowners Association WhatsApp platform;
d) An order of this Honourable Court that Respondent tenders to Applicants an unreserved apology in two (2) widely read national newspapers for their unlawful exclusion and removal WhatsApp Platform;
e) An order of injunction restraining the Respondents whether by themselves or by their officers, agents, servants, privies or otherwise however from carrying future act such maligning and deregistering Applicants from the Nigeria Shipowners Association or in any other manner infringing on their Fundamental Rights of the Applicants of association;
f) An order directing payment of the sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira only) being the damages against the Respondents for the violation of Applicants’ Constitutional right;
g) The Sum Of N1,000,000 incurred by Applicants’ as Solicitor Fees; and
h) Cost of action.
The Applicants further alleged that they are deeply concerned and saddened that the Press release/Interview dated 14 September 2023 in Shipping Position Online by Sola Adewumi and Jubril Rowaye on behalf of the Association are littered with falsehood and outright misrepresentation of facts in a manner that criminal defamation can be rightly inferred.
As at the time of filling this report, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.