The Federal High Court in Lagos has refused to grant an interlocutory injunction against Eko Atlantic project. Justice Jude Dagat held that the N3.7billion guarantee posted by the dredger’s owners represented good security for the claim.
The judge also refused an application for the suit’s dismissal filed by the dredger’s owners.
He held that the plaintiff, Mondinvest Limited, could maintain the action for N3.7billion damages. Three contractors handling the project urged the court to dismiss a suit seeking to stop it.
The plaintiff is demanding the money in general damages for the alleged damage of its property due to the defendants’ activities.
But the defendants, M.V. Breughel (sister vessel to M.V. Congo River), the Master of the M.V. Breughel and Dredging Environmental and Marine Engineering NV, contended that the plaintiff lacked jurisdiction to file the action.
The plaintiff filed the admiralty case, known as in rem proceedings, for alleged coastline and property damage caused by M.V. Congo River and MV. Breughel currently engaged in dredging operations in the Kuramo Waters in furtherance of the Eko Atlantic project.
Arguing their notice of preliminary objection, the defendants’ lawyer, Ken Okwujiako, urged the court to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction.
“Our position is that the plaintiff, not being owners of the Kuramo Waters coastline, has no basis for demanding damages. The Kuramo Waters belong to the Federal Government. It is our view that the plaintiff has not stated any right it has over Kuramo Waters whatsoever,” he said.
Besides, the lawyer said the defendants are agents of a disclosed party, which had already provided a guarantee in case of any damages.
“We urge your lordship to strike out this suit. At the appropriate time we shall bring an application for cost,” Okwujiako said.
But, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Adedolapo Akinrele (SAN), said his client’s property on the Kuramo Waters was damaged through the dredging.
“It’s clear that the plaintiff has suffered damages and is still suffering damages as a result of the dredging,” he said.
Akinrele, in a motion for injunction, prayed for an interlocutory order restraining the defendants from continuing with the dredging, sand-filling or reclaiming the Kuramo waters pending hearing and determination of the suit.
A company, South Energy X, Eko Atlantic Project sponsors, has applied to join as a party to the suit. Justice Dagat adjourned till April 15 for hearing.
• The Nation