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$6.5m ship purchase scandal: Court throws out Labinjo’s suit against Ships & Ports

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Onozure Dania

Lagos—A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has dismissed a N100 million libel suit filed against  a maritime communication and consulting firm, Ships & Ports by former President of the Nigerian Ship owners Association, NISA, Niyi Labinjo.

Niyi Labinjo had in February 2015 filed a suit against Ships & Port over a story titled ‘NISA President Labinjo in $6.5 milion vessel purchase scandal’ in which Mrs. Adenike Jolapamo-Onifade, the daughter of his predecessor and founding President of the association, accused him (Labinjo) and his wife Bola of allegedly diverting part of a USD6.5 million loan granted an indigenous shipping company, Acenk Maritime & Energy Services Limited by First Bank Plc for the purchase of two vessels.

Jolapamo-Onifade, who is the Managing Director of Acenk, said the loan was granted to her company through an offer letter dated September 15, 2014.

She had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), leading to the detention of Labinjo and his wife at the anti-graft agency’s Ikoyi office. NISA had also asked Labinjo to “step aside” until he clears his name in the matter.

Delivering judgment on the matter yesterday, Justice Hakeem Oshodi dismissed the suit for the claimant’s failure to prove publication.

Justice Oshodi said since there was no dispute of the evidence before the court, as the defendants were not disputing the exhibits tendered, “the query now is whether the claimant has proved publication.

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