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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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Crime

Lagos Police Arrest Suspects With Vandalised Rail Tracks

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A patrol team from Ijora Badia Police division has arrested two suspects conveying vandalised rail tracks in Lagos State.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, disclosed this via his Twitter handle on Monday.

He said, “At about 1am today, a patrol team from Ijora Badia Division intercepted a Mitsubishi Lancer car conveying vandalised railway tracks. The two occupants of the vehicle have been arrested. Investigation is ongoing.”

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Oshoffa ratifies Ajala’s appointment

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The Celestial Church of Christ has ratified the appointment of its media head, Superior Evangelist Kayode Ajala.

In a letter dated Thursday, 26th January, 2023, with reference number CCC/EMF/PD/AP-003/01-23, the pastor and spiritual leader of the church, His Eminence, Reverend Emmanuel Mobiyina Oshoffa, has authenticated his appointment as Head of Media and Publicity, Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide.

The spiritual head stated that after due consideration and taking into cognizance his wealth of experience in journalism, coupled with his invaluable contributions to the growth and progress of the church, the ratification was just in order.

With this appointment, SE Ajala will oversee the operations of the Media and Publicity Unit of the Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide. He will also be responsible in creating and maintaining a positive public image and perception for the Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide.

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In addition, the media head will submit regular progress reports to the church’s spiritual head and carry out any other duties as assigned by same.

SE Ajala graduated with honours from the Ogun State University (Now Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye) in 1986 bagging a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature. Upon completion of his compulsory one year youth service programme at the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State), he began his sojourn into journalism as a contributor to the defunct National Concord Newspaper in 1987.

In 1989, he joined the newly established HINTS magazine as an Editorial Executive. By dint of hardwork and total commitment to duty, he rose through the ranks meteorically, earning three promotions in one year, to become the Editor of the magazine at the age of 23, making him the youngest Editor of a national publication in Nigeria at that time. A feat that was widely acknowledged and celebrated.

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A holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in journalism, Superior Evangelist Kayode Ajala has, at different times in his career, anchored columns for Ovation International Magazine, the Sunday Punch Newspaper, the Sun Newspaper , the Independent Newspaper, the Nigerian Tribune and the Compass Newspaper, amongst others. His contemporaries in journalism include Chief Dele Momodu, Prophet (Dr) Kunle Hamilton, Dr Reuben Abati, Dr Seye Kehinde, Mayor Akinpelu, Ekerete Udoh, Kunle Bakare, Femi Akintunde Johnson, Funke Egbemode, Medline Tador, Moji Danisa, to mention a few.

The appointment, which takes effect from Wednesday, February 1, 2023, is for a duration of two years.

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Court orders Dangote to pay unlawfully dismissed employee N1.4mln within 30 days

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The Lagos division of the National Industrial Court Of Nigeria (NICN) has awarded damages against two of Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s companies – Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Projects Limited – for the dismissal of one Peter Terngu Ahemen.

Nigerian businessman, Dangote is Africa’s richest man and the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Dangote Group, the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa.

Consequently, Justice Justice (Dr.) Elizabeth A Oji, who presided over the court ordered Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Projects Limited, which are both defendants in the suit, to pay the sum of N1.4 million to the dismissed staff member, Ahemen, as damages and in lieu of notice.

The plaintiff, Peter, had approached the court through his lawyer, Gibson Elumelu, in a suit numbered NICN/LA/510/2019, wherein he sought the following reliefs; “a declaration that the first defendant is bound by the terms and conditions of the claimant’s letter of employment and training bond.

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“A declaration that the termination of his employment by the second defendant vide a letter dated May 20, 2019, contravenes the terms and conditions of his letter of employment dated February 4, 2016, as well as the rules of natural justice and is therefore null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

“A declaration that the termination of the employment of the claimant by the second defendant vide a letter dated May 20, 2019 amounts to a brazen breach of contract between parties to this suit.

“A declaration that the termination of the employment of the claimant by the 2nd defendant vide a letter dated May 20, 2019, is wrongful in law.

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“An order that the defendants jointly and severally shall pay to him the sum of N187, 583.78, being the net sum of his unpaid monthly remuneration from the month of February 2019 to the date of judgment.

“An interest on the said amount of N187, 583.78, only from February 28, 2019, at the rate of 22 percent per annum till judgment and thereafter at the rate of 22 percent till final liquidation of the debt.

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“An order that the defendants jointly and severally, shall pay the sum of N300 million only, to him as damages for brazen breach of contract and as general damages for the psychological trauma, torture, pain, agony, stress and frustration they forced him to pass through. And an order for payment of the sum of N2 million as the cost of instituting the action.

But the two Dangote companies, Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Projects Limited through their lawyers, E. A. Okorie and Chris C. Ottih, filed a joint Statement of Defence, together with defendants’ witness statement on oath deposed to by Mr Douglas Adiele.”

The defendants equally filed a counter-claim wherein they asked the following: “a declaration that the claimant/first defendant to counterclaim is in breach of his agreement, obligations, covenant, undertaking and bond to the first defendant as contained in the Training Bond dated February 29, 2016.

“An order for the payment of the sum of N15, 714 million to the first defendant being Training/course fee, Visa processing fee, FRRO cost, Air ticket/travel expenses, accommodation cost, transportation cost, feeding including a consolidated training stipend of $300 per month and other ancillary cost of logistics incurred by the first defendant in the claimant’s foreign training.

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“An order for the payment of the sum of N7 million, being and representing general and exemplary damages for the claimant’s breach of its agreement and undertaking with the first defendant and being the legal fees paid by the first defendant to defend the suit.

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“Payment of interest on the above sum to the first defendant/counterclaimant at the rate of 21 percent per annum from the 24th day of January 2019 till judgment is delivered hereof and thereafter at 15 percent until total liquidation.

The presiding judge, Justice (Dr.) Oji, in her judgment, held that: “for avoidance of doubt, the counterclaim fails in its entirety. The Claimant’s suit succeeds in part.

“The defendants are ordered to pay to the Claimant, the sum of N180, 000.00, being the Claimant’s unpaid monthly remuneration from the month of February 2019 to May 2019, and June 2019 as salary in lieu of notice. Total to be paid is N900,000.00 (Nine Hundred Thousand Naira) only.

“The cost of this suit is set at N500, 000.00, only to be paid to the Claimant by Defendants.

“All adjudged sum to be paid not later than 30 days from the date of this judgment failing which interest will accrue at the rate of 20 percent per annum.”

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