Monday, November 14

Reps summon Navy over vandalised vessel

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has summoned the Nigerian Navy to appear before it, over alleged vandalism of a vessel it arrested.

The owners of the vessel, Lifeline Maritime Limited and Braza Oil Limited, in a petition written on their behalf by their counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) is demanding $29 million as damages for the vessel.
At the commencement of hearing into the petition at the weekend, only the petitioner  represented by their counsel was present. Because  of the absence of the Navy, the chairman of the committee, Uzoma Abonta adjourned to a fortnight, and directed the Navy to appear  before it on the adjourned date to respond to the allegations.
Ozekhome, in his submission at the investigative hearing, alleged that the Navy seized the vessel in good condition, but when it was released, it had been vandalised, with all the vital parts  carted away.
According to him,  his clients had gone to court to seek redress before the lawyers from Ministry of Defence approached them for an out-of-court settlement.  He said since then, the Navy had failed to show up for settlement.
Ozekhome said the case was no longer potent in the court, hence the decision of his client to approach the House for reprieve. He urged the committee to see the failure of the Navy to appear before it as a tactics to evade responsibility.
The counsel prayed the committee to order the Ministry of Defence and the Nigerian Navy to pay his client damages for the vesel, which he alleged, was vandalised while in the custody of the Service.