NIMASA Vs Henmor Nigeria: Court of Appeal Returns N7 Billion to NIMASA
The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Friday, March 14, 2014 effectively ordered the return of the sum of NGN7,000, 000, 000 (Seven Billion Naira) to the NIMASA in Appeal No. CA/L/62/12 between: Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency V. Henmor Nigeria Limited. In a considered and unanimous judgement, the Court of Appeal agreed with the arguments of Senior Counsel to NIMASA, Mr. Louis Mbanefo, SAN, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN and Dr Fabian Ajogwu, SAN and allowed the Appeal against the Judgment of a Federal High Court, Lagos, on the ground that there were no credible evidences upon which judgment was entered in favour of the Respondent at the trial court. The Court of Appeal also held that the vessel, subject matter of the suit M.T. AGBOMIEN was unseaworthy going by the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act and was therefore justifiably detained. The Court however held that the Public Officers Protection Act was not applicable to the matter. The Respondent was represented by Mr. Kola Awodein, SAN.
Justices of the Court of Appeal, Sidi Bage and Rita Pemu, JJCA agreed with the lead judgment of Chinwe Iyizoba, JCA who concluded as follows:
On the claim of $7,000 per day as cost of hire of the vessel, the documents of the charter ought to have been pleaded and tendered to prove that item of loss, but this was not done. Also, as regards the $25 Million claimed 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 power of the Regulatory Agency, NIMASA to detain vessels on the basis of the Merchant Shipping Act was affirmed in the landmark decision. This is a development within the Maritime and Shipping sector of the economy that needs improved quality control and monitoring.
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