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Court orders AGF, Chief of Naval Staff to release seized vessel to Nigerian owners

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and and Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff to release a seized Vessel, MV Blue Shark, to the Nigerian owners.

Justice Emeka Nwite issued the release order following the 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, 2024 while returning from Gabon to Warri in Delta State to carry out repair works

The crews detained alongside the vessel are 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 to 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 had also asked for a sum of N500M as damages to be paid to them for the unlawful arrest and detention of the vessel.

However at the proceedings on Wednesday, Atabor SAN informed Justice Emeka Nwite that parties in the matter have amicably settled during a round table discussion and that terms of settlement have been drawn for execution.

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

The submission of the senior lawyer was corroborated by Mr T. M Ozioko who represented a Cameroonian lawyer, Mr Eugene Thomas Ndong Amaazee at the proceedings at whose stance the vessel was seized.

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

Justice Nwite subsequently fixed July 15 for the adoption of the terms of settlement as a judgment of the Court.

It will be recalled that the Streamflow Global Services and Jerusalem Obokeno had on May 17 secured 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.

Justice Nwite had issued the restraining order while ruling in an ex-parte application argued by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Reuben Okpanachi 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 judgment that may have emanated outside the country until the case of the vessel owner has been effectively disposed off.

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