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Civil Transactions: Firm Accuses Navy, EFCC Of Disregarding Court Judgments, Orders

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The Nigerian Navy, alongside the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has been accused of blatant disregard for court judgments/orders, abuse of the rule of law, and the use of military force to enforce civil transactions between two private legal entities which has nothing to do with the security of the country nor any crime within the remit of the EFCC enabling Act.

The accusation came from a firm, Melka West Africa Limited through its petition addressed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, dated August 1, 2023.

In the petition captioned, ‘Blatamt Disregard For Court Judgments/Orders, Abuse Of The Rule Of Law And The Use Of Military Force To Enforce Civil Transactions By The Nigerian Navy And The Economic And Financial Crimes Commission – A Plea For Urgent Intervention’, the firm, which is located in Lagos, Nigeria, and the owner of a Tugboat named M.V. Naomi Princess with Official Number SR 2683 and IMO Number 9743112, explained that on December 16, 2023, an old generation bank, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, made a Credit Facility Offer (CFO) to the petitioner (Melka West Africa Limited) and subsequently executed the contractual transaction in question.



The Vessel, according to the firm, was made security for the facility under a Vessel Mortgage which was strictly between Melka West Africa and First Bank of Nigeria Pic wherein Late Chief Mike Uwaka executed the contract in his capacity as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and gave a personal guarantee of the facility.

However, the relationship between the parties deteriorated and resulted in a legal action designated FHC/L/CS/667/2017 – First Bank Of Nigeria Plc Vs MV. Naomi Princess and Melka West Africa, before Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.

It would be recalled that Justice Obiozor had in his judgment dated June 2, 2020, on the enforcement of fundamental rights suit filed by the petitioner, between Mrs Elsie Uwaka and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Shaibu Umar, and First Bank Of Nigeria Limited, ordered as follows:

“A declaration that the continuous investigation of the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited, the invitation of the Directors of the applicant’s company and a continuous threat to arrest and detain the applicant upon the petition of the 3rd respondent and using the instrumentality of the coercive and penial powers of the 1st and 2nd respondents is unlawful and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental rights.

“A declaration that the continuous harassment of the applicant’s business associates in the guise of investigating the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited, using the coercive and penial powers including invitations directed by the 1st and 2nd respondents upon the petition of the 1st respondent is unlawful and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental rights to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty.

“A declaration that the applicant is entitled to the dignity of her person and personal liberty, particularly against arrest threat to arrest, detention or further arrest or detention howsoever as guaranteed by Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and also by virtue of the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004.

“An order restraining the 1st and 2nd respondents by themselves, their agents and servants from using their coercive and penial powers to harass and intimidate the applicant and her business associates and from acting at the instigation of the 3rd respondent to perpetrate any further violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights whilst a suit between parties is pending at the Court of Appeal.

“An order restraining the respondents either by themselves or through their agents and privies from arresting, disturbing or interfering with the business operations of the applicant or through further threat of incitation, investigation of her business operations, disruption of her banking operations, intimidation and unnecessary interrogation of in any other way or manner whatsoever.

“Perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd respondents by themselves, their agents and servants from using their coercive and penial powers to harass, intimidate, attempt to arrest, arrest and detain the applicant and her business operations and from acting at the instigation of the 3rd respondent, in any manner or form, or through any form of invitation or investigation on the subject between the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited and the 3rd respondent pending at the Court of Appeal.

“Relief 7 is refused and dismissed.

“Relief 8 is refused and dismissed.

“Order directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents jointly and severally to pay the applicant the sum of N250,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) as general damages.

“The 3rd respondent shall issue a letter of apology to the applicant for breach and violation of the applicant’s rights”.

In her Motion on Notice dated October 22, 2019, the applicant had prayed to the judge for “A declaration that the continuous investigation of the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited, the invitation of the Directors of the applicant’s company and a continuous threat to arrest and detain the applicant upon the petition of the 3rd respondent and using the instrumentality of the coercive and penial powers of the 1st and 2nd respondents to enforce the recovery of an alleged debt owed to the 3rd respondent on a subject between the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited, and the 3rd respondent pending at the Court of Appeal is unlawful and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental rights.

“A declaration that the continuous harassment of the applicant’s business associates in the guise of investigating the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited, using the coercive and penial powers including invitations directed by the 1st and 2nd respondents upon the petition of the 1st respondent is unlawful and a breach of the applicant’s fundamental rights to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty.

“A declaration that the applicant is entitled to the dignity of her person and personal liberty particularly against arrest, threat to arrest, detention or further arrest or detention howsoever as guaranteed by Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and also by virtue of the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004.

“An order restraining the 1st and 2nd respondents by themselves, their agents and servants from using their coercive and penial powers to harass and intimidate the applicant and her business associates and from acting at the instigation of the 3rd respondent to perpetrate any further violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights whilst the suit between parties is pending at the Court of Appeal.

“An order restraining the respondents either by themselves or through their agents and privies from arresting, disturbing or interfering with the business operations of the applicant or through further threat of invitation, investigation of her business operations, disruption of her business operations, intimidation and unnecessary interrogation or in any other way or manner whatsoever.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd respondents by themselves, their agents and servants from using their coercive and penial powers to harass, intimidate, attempt to arrest, arrest and detain the applicant and her business operations and from acting at the instigation of the 3rd respondent, in any manner or form, or through any form of invitation or investigation on the subject between the applicant’s company, Melka West Africa Limited, and the 3rd respondent pending at the Court of Appeal.

“An order restraining the 1st and 2nd respondents by themselves, their agents and servants from seizing the applicant’s travel documents or confiscating, freezing or doing any act capable of limiting or restricting the applicant’s access to and enjoyment of any propriety resources capable of enhancing the applicant’s welfare or any further encumbrance and the enjoyment of her fundamental rights.

“An order compelling the respondents either by themselves, their agents, servants or officers in charge to desist from any act capable of jeopardizing or violating the fundamental rights of the applicant as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights Act otherwise than by recourse to the rule of taw.

“An order directing the respondents jointly and severally to pay to the applicant the sum of N10, 000, 000. 00 (Ten Mikon Naira) as general damages.

“A public apology by the respondents to the applicant for breach and violation of the fundamental rights of the applicant”.

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