AGF, Chief of Naval Staff Ordered to Release Seized Vessel to Nigerian Owners

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Chief of Naval Staff have been ordered to release a seized Vessel, MV Blue Shark, to its Nigerian owners.

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Abuja, made the order sequel to a peaceful resolution of all issues that led to the seizure of the vessel belonging to Streamflow Global Services and Jerusalem Obokeno.

The vessel was arrested and detained alongside its crew on May 6 while returning from Gabon to Warri in Delta State to carry out repair works.

The crews detained alongside the vessel were John Oyadonga, Foxy Bakpar Afoke, David Owolo, Otugo Solomon, Ugbogure Idolor, Joseph Eke, Eric Ebiodench, Obiku Felix, Emmanuel Akpomudjere, Franklin Anyanwu, and Eric Ovwidi.

The seizure later led to the filing of a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/639/2024, by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Reuben Okpanachi Atabo, on behalf of the vessel owners.

Apart from their prayers for the release of the vessel, the owners also asked for a sum of N500 million as damages to be paid to them for the unlawful arrest and detention of the vessel.

However, at the proceedings yesterday, Atabor informed Nwite that parties in the matter had amicably settled during a round table discussion and that terms of settlement hag been drawn for execution.

The senior lawyer also said parties agreed that pending the execution of the terms of settlement, the vessel should be released to the owners.

Atabor’s submission was corroborated by Mr. T. M. Ozioko, who represented a Cameroonian lawyer, Mr. Eugene Thomas Ndong Amaazee, at the proceedings, at whose instance the vessel was seized.

Following the consensus, Nwite granted the oral application of the senior lawyer and ordered that the seized vessel to be handed over to the owner.

Nwite subsequently fixed July 15 for the adoption of the terms of settlement as the judgement of the court.

Streamflow Global Services and Jerusalem Obokeno had on May 17 secured an order of interim injunction, which restrained the AGF, naval chief, and a Cameroonian lawyer, Eugene Thomas Ndong Amaazee, from moving the vessel, known as MV Blue Shark, from the Navy Dockyard in Port Harcourt to Cameroon, Gabon, or any place outside Nigeria.

Nwite had issued the restraining order while ruling in an ex-parte application argued by Atabo on behalf of the owners of the vessel.

The judge had also barred the AGF and Chief of Naval Staff from acting or giving effect to any order or judgement that might have emanated outside the country until the case of the vessel owner had been effectively disposed of.

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