A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has ordered the Admiralty Marshall to commission the valuation and sale of a vessel MV Regina, which is lying at Lagos Port under the lawful custody of the court, pursuant to an order of the court.
The court presided over by Justice Chukwujekwu J. Aneke, also ordered that the proceed of the sale be deposited in an interest yielding fixed deposit account with First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
The court order was sequel to a motion on notice filed by a marine company, Tubbs Marine and Energy Limited, owner of the MT Sir Michael against the defendant vessel MV Regina.
The marine company, in an affidavit in support of its application deposed to by one Boyede Olorunfemi, and filed before the court by its counsel, Adewale Adebukunola of Dayspring Law Firm, averred that on or about December 23, 2011, Tubbs Marine and Energy Ltd, owners of Mt Sir Michael took out a writ of summon against the defendant vessel and simultaneously, with the issuance of the writ of summon, the applicant applied for and obtained an order/warrant to arrest, detain the vessel, MV Regina, to secure the applicant’s claim, pending the determination of the substantive suit on merit.
The deponent averred that the order was served on the vessel since then and it is now more than six months, and the owner of the vessel, MV Regina, had not taken any steps to provide defence in the matter and that the bailiff of the court has duly served the order of arrest on the defendant and since the service of the said court order, the defendant have done nothing either to pay their indebtedness or secure the claim in the matter.
Olorunfemi also averred that counsel appearing for the parties in the suit has carefully considered the vessel being sold and the proceeds of the sale kept in a profit yielding account with First Bank Plc pending the determination of the substantive suit. He added that for each day the vessel is lying at the anchorage and not in service, it is deteriorating and diminishing in value and is at the risk of sinking.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke ruled as follows:
(a) That an order is hereby granted directing the Admiralty Marshal to commission the valuation and sale of the MV Regina which is the subject matter of this claim, which is now lying at Lagos port under the lawful arrest pursuant to order of this honourable court and which vessel is named as the defendant herein.
(b) That an order is hereby granted that the proceeds of sale should be deposited in an interest yielding fixed deposit account with First bank of Nigeria Plc pending the determination of this suit and the said proceeds of sale together with accrued interest to be applied to satisfy the judgment and the costs given in this matter and for such order or further orders as this honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.
By Pita Ochai