BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
Justice Muslim Hassan has fixed February 22 to decide whether to stay the execution of $1.630 million and N50 million judgement debt he awarded against Emirates Airlines
Justice Hassan had on January 11 ordered Emirates Airlines to pay one of its passengers, Orji Ikem the sums of $1.36 million being the money in his hand luggage which went missing in the airline’s custody during a 2007 China trip.
Justice Hassan had also ordered the airlines to pay Ikem N50 million as damages for the “untold hardship and loss of earning” he suffered by the deprivation of use of his money from 2007 till date.
The judge gave the orders while delivering judgment in the 12 year old suit filed by the businessman seeking to recover two hand luggage containing personal effects and $700,000, as well as $930,000 in 18 bundles of $50,000 wraps each and $30,000 cash not in wrap.
Dissatisfied with Justice Hassan’s decision, Emirates Airlines appealed the judgement and also filed an application for stay of execution of the order before the trial court.
When the application for stay came up for hearing on Wednesday, counsel to the airlines, Chief Kalu (SAN) told the court that the application is pursuant to section 32, Rules of the extant law of the court and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Chief Kalu, while urging the court to grant the application, told the court that though, his client could pay the money to the judgement creditor, but they are afraid that if his client’s appeal succeeds, the judgement creditor will not be able to pay back the money.
He said, “We found out that the judgement sum is huge, and the judgement creditor does not have the capacity at the moment to refund that sum, this we call for variation before the exhaustion of judicial processes.
“We urged the court to hold the balance and if our appeal succeeds, can he pay back the money. I urge the court to show us a guarantee that he can pay the money and a declaration for his means of his livelihood,” the lawyer submitted.
Responding, the businessman through his counsel, Chief Chris Ekemezie, urged the court to dismiss the airlines’ application, as it has not disclosed any issue of law.
The lawyer while citing section 32 of the rule of the court, asked the court to order the airlines to deposit the judgement sum in the Federal High Court’s account, pending the determination of the appeal.
He also informed the court that the issue that his client should make an undertaking is not applicable, adding that the airlines’ further affidavit was out of time.
He also told the court that the airlines’ further affidavit arguments are legal opinion, which is an offence to section 115 of the Evidence Act.
Ekemezie therefore urged the court to strike out the airlines’ application for stay on judgement sum, for being unconvincing and order it to pay the money into the Court’s account.