First Bank

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Court slams N840m judgment against Sterling Bank Plc

A High Court sitting in Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area, Delta State has awarded N840.8 million against Sterling Bank Plc and Mr Godwin Nwekoyo (defendants) for unlawfully sealing the premises of Joma Frozen Food Products Limited.

Justice Roli-Daibo Harriman gave the order while delivering a judgement in Suit No: EHC/216/2015 filed by the claimant, Agro Allied Development Enterprises (claimant).

Delivering judgement, Justice Harriman held that the 1st defendant, Joma Frozen Food Products limited, had no direct or indirect responsibility for the actions of the defendants.

She held that the sealing of the cold room facility situated at Number 13, Refinery Road, Effurun, Warri, Delta State by the defendants “is an act of trespass.

“The actions of the defendants constituted a breach of the claimant’s right of peaceful, peaceable possession and quiet enjoyment of it’s leasehold interest in the said cold room facility.”

“It is the law that a claimant who makes a claim for specific damage must provide credible evidence to convince the court that he is entitled to the special damage.

“The claimant has not only pleaded his specific damage but has provided documents and records showing same. These are not challenged by the defendants in any way.

“I find that special damages have been proved. The claimant has proved it’s case against the 2nd and 3rd defendants and is entitled to Judgement against the said defendants jointly and severally,” the judge stated.

Harriman ruled that N839.6 million of the cost represents total loss incurred by the claimant over its damaged fish while N1 million was for general damage and additional cost of N300,000.

The claimant, a registered food production and processing company through its counsel Mr N. Ogbannaya had approached the court following the unlawful sealing of its cold room facility by the defendants.

The claimant sought an order of the court declaring that the sealing of the cold room facility and it’s continuous denial of access to same, jointly and severally, by the 2nd and 3rd defendants was an act of trespass and constitute a breach of it’s rights of peaceful, peaceable possession and quiet enjoyment of it’s interest in the facility.

The claimant also sought for general and exemplary damages to the tune of N1 million for conversion and Detinue, trespass and breach of its right of peaceful and peaceable possession of the cold room.

It also claimed special damages to the tune of N839. 6 million as total loss it incurred in selling it’s fish, damaged during storage at the 1st defendant’s cold room and additional N5 million being estimated cost of filing the lawsuit.

The claimant averred that sometimes in August and September 2015, it entered into two separate cold room lease/storage agreement with the 1st defendant (Joma Frozen Food Limited) of its cold room.

According to the claimant, based on the agreement, it was entitled to a peaceable and peaceful possession and quiet enjoyment of the leased property.

The claimant added that the 1st defendant was supposed to be responsible for all the services including the provision of power supply, maintaining and repairing of the refrigerating units to ensure the temperature of the cold room was maintained at preset degree.

The claimant said that while offloading and storing frozen food valued at N2 billion into the cold room, the 3rd defendant invaded the facility with thugs and policemen, chased away the claimant’s staff and locked up the premises.

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