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Bunkering: Court orders detention of vessels, crew

By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—A Benin High Court has ordered President Umaru Yar’Adua, to arrest and detain the vessels, MT CONCEP and MT Molap Edurance, the crew and all persons found on board for illegally evacuating the content of the vessel, MT Akuada (MT KUA), impounded early this year by the military Joint Task Force (JTF) over an alleged illegal bunkering activities.

The court issued the warrant of arrest in an Ex-parte motion filed by Mr. Frank Omiunu, on behalf of his client, MT AKUADA (MT KUA).

The Presiding Judge, Justice Chukwura Nnamani, held that the court decision had become imperative, considering the fact that the contentious issues involving the arrest of the vessel in question was still pending before another competent court of law in the country.

In its notice of arrest dated September 25, 2009, to the suit number FHC/B/CS/141/2009, that had Erwin Antas and 12 others as respondents and both the Federal Republic and MT AKUADA as Applicants, the Judge urged the President to approve the arrest of MT CONCEP and MT MOLAP ENDURANCE and any other vessels, crew or persons found on board the said vessels evacuating the content on board MT AKUADA (MT KUA) detained at the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) Jetty in Warri, Delta State.

According to the warrant of arrest, “we hereby command His Excellency, President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, to effect the arrest of these vessels, crew or persons found on board the said vessels and the cargo therein now positioned beside the MT AKUADA (MT KUA) now lying within the jurisdiction of this court and to keep the same under safe arrest and detention until you shall receive further order from this court.”

Counsel to the seized vessel, MT AKUADA (MT KUA), Messr Frank Omiunu had in his motion Ex-parte dated September 23, 2009, asked that the court grant the arrest and detention of the aforementioned vessels, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already pending in court dated June 8, 2009.

The motion also undertake to indemnify the respondents for any loss or damage suffered as a result of this order to arrest and detain the vessels should it turn out that the order ought not to have been made in the first instance.

The court warrant of arrest had since been served on the State Security Service (SSS), the NNS Delta Naval Command and the Joint Task Force (JTF), Effurun Barracks of the Nigerian Army, for necessary action.


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