Leading Master Mariner and former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho, last Thursday asked a Lagos High Court to compel the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its Director-General, Mr. Ziakade Patrick Akpobolokemi, respectively, to pay him a whopping N90 billion and N349 million as damages for assault and false detention.
Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, owned by Ihenacho, as co-claimants, also named NIMASA Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Callistus Nwabueze Obi; and NIMASA Deputy Director, Public Relations, Hajiya Lami Tumaka, as defendants in the suit endorsed by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN; and Chima Umezuruike.
Ihenacho, who is former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shipping Companies Association (NSCA), as well as former Vice Chairman of the Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), said that he sought judicial redress due to the invasion of his tank farm in Ibafon, Lagos between August 29 and September 28, 2012, by 30 Policemen under the command of NIMASA on the allegation that stolen oil products was being stored in his premises.
Ihenacho also complained to the court that his arrest and detention at the NIMASA facility, the Nigerian Maritime Resource Centre (NMRC) in Kirikiri, Lagos, and later at the State Security Service (SSS) office at Shangisha, Lagos, violated his fundamental human rights.
Ihenacho was particularly pained that a world press conference was addressed by Tumaka on the allegation, which formed the report in all national newspapers and social media networks.
The erudite Master Mariner said: “MT Grace, which discharged the 3,000.349 metric tonnes of diesel oil in his farm tank on the request of PDR Ventures Limited had the written permissions of all relevant authorities to do so.
“The authorities are: NIMASA, Commanding Officer of the Naval Base, Beecroft Dockyard, Lagos, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). Despite all the permissions and the presence of representatives of these government agencies when the products were discharged, NIMASA’s agents came 13 days after to seal off the farm tanks and arrested and detained five employees of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited.”
The media reports of this incidence, Ihenacho stated in his 45-paragraph claims made him and his company to suffer “considerable loss and damage,” including drop in revenues and damage to his reputation and made it difficult for him and Integrated Oil and Gas Limited to obtain credit from banks and other lending institutions.
Describing the case as ” a targeted malice” by NIMASA and its agents, he, and his company asked the court to compel the defendants to pay him N90 billion and N349 million plus interest at 25 per cent per annum for misfeasance in public office, malicious falsehood, conspiracy to injure economic interests, trespass to land, defamation, assault and false imprisonment and an order of injunction compelling all the defendants (NIMASA, Akpobolokemi, Obi and Tumaka) to make public retraction and apology in NIMASA’s website, The Guardian newspaper, THISDAYnewspaper and The Punch newspaper for the defamatory statements made against him and his company on September 14 and 15, 2012.
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