Court stops Customs from auctioning container belonging to businessman

A Lagos High Court in Igbosere has ordered the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar to stay action on plans to arrest a businessman, Jude Obiora Iloka and his partner, Chief (Mrs) Nneka Egbe.

Trial judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, also restrained officers of the Nigerian Customs Service from selling the goods contained in eight 40 feet containers belonging to the applicants.

The applicants had filed the suit following threat of arrest and alleged illegal sale of the goods in their containers by the NCS.

The applicants had also listed the Comptroller General of Customs, Adbullahi Diko and Customs Area Comptroller in Charge of Tin Can Port as co-defendants to the suit.

Counsel to the applicants, Paschal Ukpaka, had while arguing the ex-parte motion in support of the suit, stressed that after his clients paid necessary customs duties, shipping charges and terminal/warehousing charges in respect of the containers, the respondents were still making moves to arrest the applicants and confiscate the goods in the containers for no just reason.

The lawyer recalled that the container exit attestation notes for the said containers, which were under auction, were duly signed by the Customs Resident official, NAFDAC, NDLEA, Police, SSS and Musa Audu Tahir, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs who doubles as the Chairman of Joint Allocation Committee.

He added that by a letter dated March 10, 2014, the NCS listed the said containers and confirmed that they have been processed and relisted and should allow the allottees (the applicants) to take delivery, but that despite the clearance, some officers of the defendants were making another move to arrest the containers and dispose the goods therein.

Besides, Ukpaka added that in a desperate move by Customs to arrest his clients and dispose the goods, one of their associates by the name Isreal Egwim, had already been arrested for about three weeks.

After entertaining arguments, Justice Alogba restrained Nigeria Customs Service and Police from arresting or attempting to dispose the goods contained in the containers.

The court, which ordered that hearing notice should be served on the defendants, however directed the applications to file an undertaking to pay damages to the defendants if it turns out that the order ought not to have been made. He also fixed tomorrow for hearing. 

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