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Court Slams Sterling Bank, One Other With N841 Million In Damages For Unlawful Sealing

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In a suit marked EHC/216/2015, Agro Allied Development Enterprises, the claimant had sued Joma Frozen Food Limited, 1st defendant; Sterling Bank Plc, 2nd defendant and Godwin Obali Nwekoyo, 3rd defendant, following an alleged illegal sealing of its business premises by the defendants.

AHigh Court sitting in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State has slammed Sterling Bank PLC and one Godwin Obali Nwekoyo with N840.8 million in damages for allegedly sealing the premises of Joma Frozen Food Products Limited in Effurun near Warri, Delta State.

In a suit marked EHC/216/2015, Agro Allied Development Enterprises, the claimant had sued Joma Frozen Food Limited, 1st defendant; Sterling Bank Plc, 2nd defendant and Godwin Obali Nwekoyo, 3rd defendant, following an alleged illegal sealing of its business premises by the defendants.

The claimant, a registered food production and processing company through its counsel, N. Ogbannaya approached the court following the unlawful sealing of its cold room facility by the 2nd and 3rd defendants.

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The claimant sought an order of the court declaring that the sealing of the cold room facility and its continued denial of access to same, jointly and severally, by the 2nd and 3rd defendants was an act of trespass and constituted a breach of its rights.

The claimant also sought general and exemplary damages to the tune of N100 million for conversion and detinue, trespass and breach of its right to “peaceful and peaceable possession of the cold room as well as special damages to the tune of N839. 6 million as the total loss it incurred in selling its fish damaged during storage at the 1st defendant’s cold room and additional N5 million being estimated cost of filing the lawsuit”.

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According to the claimant, sometime in August and September 2015, it entered into two separate cold room lease/storage agreements with the 1st defendant (Joma Frozen Food Limited).

According to the claimant, based on the agreement, it was entitled to “peaceable and peaceful possession and quiet enjoyment of the leased property”.

It added that the 1st defendant was supposed to be responsible for all the services including the provision of power supply, and maintaining and repairing of the refrigerating units to ensure the temperature of the cold room was maintained at a preset degree.

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The claimant said that while offloading and storing frozen food valued at N2 billion in the cold room, the 3rd defendant, authorised by the 2nd defendant (Sterling Bank PLC) invaded the facility with thugs and policemen, and chased away its staff members and sealed the premises.

It said despite several warnings and pleas in view of the perishable items stored in the cold room, the 2nd defendant directed him to the 3rd defendant who insisted that he should either buy the property or make a fresh lease.

Delivering her judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Roli-Daibo Harriman held that the 1st defendant, Joma Frozen Food Products Limited, had no direct or indirect responsibility for the actions of the 2nd and 3rd defendants.

The judge held that the sealing of the cold room facility by the 2nd and 3rd defendants is an act of trespass, actions she said constituted a breach of the claimant’s “right of peaceful, peaceable possession and quiet enjoyment of its leasehold interest in the said cold room facility”.

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Harriman held, “It is the law that a claimant who makes a claim for specific damage must provide credible evidence to convince the court that he is entitled to the special damage. The claimant has not only pleaded his specific damage but has provided documents and records showing the same.

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“These are not challenged by the defendants in any way. I find that special damages have been proved. The claimant has proved its case against the 2nd and 3rd defendants and is entitled to Judgement against the said defendants jointly and severally.”

The judge, therefore, ruled that N839.6 million of the cost represents the total loss incurred by the claimant over its damaged fish while N1 million was for general damages in addition to an additional cost of N300,000.

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Naira appreciates against USD at forex market amid Binance clampdown

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Naira has returned to its appreciation against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market amid the restriction of Binance, a cryptocurrency platform.

Data from FMDQ showed that the Naira appreciated N1,609.51 at the close of trading on Wednesday from N1,615.94 on Tuesday.

This represents an N6.43 or 0.4 per cent appreciation compared to the N1,615.94 recorded at the closing of Tuesday’s trading.

Meanwhile, the Naira exchanged for N1,500 per USD on Wednesday at the parallel market from N1,618.489 on Tuesday.

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Naira Rates, the parallel market exchange rate, showed that the Naira appreciated 1,463.098 per USD on Wednesday.

The development triggered a massive selloff at the Binance Market.

Theheute recalls that Naira had continued its appreciation trend on Monday.

However, it depreciated against the USD on Tuesday for the first time since last week.

At the end of Tuesday’s 293rd Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Olayemi Cardoso, reiterated his commitment to strengthen the Naira against USD at the forex market.

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The CBN had announced the resumption of foreign exchange sales directly to eligible Bureau De Change Operators.

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Ghana passes anti-gay law

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The Ghana Parliament, on Wednesday, passed the bill on human sexual rights and family values, commonly referred to as the anti-LGBTQ bill.

The bill, called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, was introduced by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

Press reports that the bill was a Private Members Bill led by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

The bill prohibits LGBTQ activities and makes it illegal to promote, advocate, or fund them, as reported by Citi Newsroom.

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Local media also reports that individuals caught engaging in the activity could face a jail sentence ranging from six months to three years, while those who support or promote the activity may be sentenced to three to five years in prison.

This is coming after years of the bill being in parliament and going through various stages, facing backlash and efforts by opponents to block it or make changes.

In Ghana, homosexuality is currently prohibited by law and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.

According to the new legislation, the maximum sentence will be extended to five years.

This proposal will also criminalise the distribution of materials that are considered supportive of LGBTQ rights.

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According to Citi Newsroom, Parliament approved the bill one day after Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to reject it.

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Takyiwaa Manuh, a senior fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, mentioned to CBS News that Akufo-Addo has not approved any previous privately sponsored bills for legal reasons related to the country’s constitution.

According to Manuh, the speaker of the parliament did not conduct the necessary analysis of the bill.

She believes that if the bill becomes law, it will significantly impact the judiciary, police, and other areas of society.

“I am sad, disappointed and surprised that our commitment and democratic principles in this country appear to be so shallow.

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“This bill represents a real danger to our country, and we are looking to the president to uphold the values of our country and constitution,” she said.

The bill will need the President’s approval to take effect.

It remains uncertain whether President Akufo-Addo will approve the bill.

In 2021, the United Nations expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed law, Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, warning that it could lead to state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.

In May 2023, Uganda implemented strict anti-LGBT legislation, which includes severe penalties such as the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

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Elumelu in global academic limelight as TEF case study becomes Harvard’s curriculum

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In an unprecedented move, the Harvard Business School, the graduate business school of Harvard University, is set to cast the spotlight on the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), recognizing the Foundation’s extraordinary philanthropic achievement in a ground-breaking case study.

The case study, the first of its kind on any philanthropic organization in Africa, is to be launched on Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts, and will explore the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how strategic philanthropy offered by TEF is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

This move by Harvard underscores the Foundation’s pivotal role in empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries and places the Foundation at the forefront of global discussions on transformative and catalytic philanthropy, acknowledging its significant contributions towards fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

In addition to delving into the foundation’s innovative approaches and the resultant impact it has garnered over the years, the event will also feature an exclusive acknowledgment of the Founder of TEF, Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalyzing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed over USD$100 million in direct funding to 20,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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Tony Elumelu who spoke on the impact of TEF on the African youth said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the antidote to poverty, youth unemployment, and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are encouraging our young people, giving them hope through the seed capital we provide, capacitating them through the training and mentoring we provide, and setting them up to create businesses that will succeed and create even more jobs. Collectively we are fixing the challenges that we have on the continent.

Continuing, he said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to replicate our own success and create entrepreneurs who will build more prosperity on the continent and for the continent. It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave society better than we met it. It is not about the money that we have in our bank accounts, it is about the legacy that we make and the impact we create. Prosperity for all is what will create the security, harmony, and peace that we need.”

The Harvard Business School session will provide a platform for thought leaders, scholars, and business enthusiasts to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Tony Elumelu Foundation stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

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