Appeal court overrules N7 billion judgment against NIMASA
An Appeal Court in Lagos has upturned a N7 billion the judgment delivered against Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) by Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court.
Justice Abang had in a suit filed against NIMASA by Henmor Nigeria Limited, ordered the agency to pay N7 billion to the plaintiff for arresting and detaining its cargo vessel, M.T. AGBOMIEN.
Dissatisfied by the verdict of the lower court, NIMASA through its lawyers, Louis Mbanefo (SAN), Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) and Dr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), appealed Justice Abang’s decision.
The respondent (Henmor Nigeria Limited) through its counsel, Kola Awodein (SAN) filed their brief urging the appellate court to dismiss NIMASA’s appeal.
But in a unanimous judgment delivered on Friday by Justice Chinwe Iyizoba, the appellate court ordered the return of the judgment sum to NIMASA.
The court held that there were no credible evidence upon which judgment was entered in favour of the respondent at the trial court. It aligned itself with the appellant’s arguments that the detained vessel was unseaworthy going by the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, therefore, was justifiably detained.
“On the claim of $7,000 per day as cost of hiring the vessel, the documents of the charter ought to have been pleaded and tendered to prove the item of loss, but this was not done.
“Also, as regards the $25 million claimed by the respondents as the estimated value of the vessel M.T. AGBOMIEN, the basis of arriving at that figure was not placed before the court to enable it determine if that was a fair and credible estimate before awarding same.
“The truth is that the respondent failed to plead full particulars of the various heads of damages claimed and also failed to strictly prove them. The awards by the lower court cannot therefore stand,” the court held.
According to the appellate court, the power of the regulatory agency, NIMASA, to detain vessels on the basis of the Merchant Shipping Act cannot be disputed.
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