A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to pay the owners of a vessel M/T Agbonmien, $39 million for unlawful detention and sale of the contents of the vessel.
NIMASA was alleged to have arrested and detained the vessel at the offshore of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Lagos, claiming that the vessel was not seaworthy.
The vessel was said to be carrying thousands of tonnes of kerosene as at the time of arrest.
The owners of the vessel, who were not happy with the arrest of the vessel, containing product said to be worth about $35 million (USD), approached the court, claiming an injunction against NIMASA.
In his verdict over the matter, Justice Okon Abang held that the vessel was illegally detained and ordered the agency to pay the owners of the vessel the judgment sum without delay.
According to the judge, investigations by the police revealed that NIMASA and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) sold the large quantity of Kerosene the vessel carried to the NNPC offshore, and eventually rendered the vessel moribund.
Justice Abang wondered why the officials of the agency had to sell the large product on board the vessel.He held that the action of the agency was unconstitutional and criminal.
Justice Abang said “The action of the agency in selling the product on board the vessel is not only unconstitutional, but criminal in nature because investigations conducted by the police in this matter revealed that NIMASA and NPA sold the product on board the vessel after arrest.”