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A Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria has ordered the Nigerian Navy and its chief of Naval staff jointly and severally to pay an oil company Mercury Oil Limited the sum of #200million damages for illegally detaining its vessel M T SAPPHIRE 1 and siphoning 280,000 liters of Automated Gas Oil containing in the said vessel.
     In his judgement, the presiding judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke said ” The present case brought to the fore once again the arrogant, brutal, callous and capricious manner our law enforcement agencies commonly adopt in the exercise of their functions to the consternation and embarrassment of any discerning and decent minds around. We are in a democracy and must do everything to enthrone and nurture democratic ethos for the good of the society.
     The judgement of the court was sequel to enforcement of a fundamental right  suit filed by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Norrison Quakers SAN before the court on behalf of Mercury Oil limited, and its vessel M T SAPPHIRE 1,and four crew members on board , Folorunso Olayiwola, Joshua A. Arthur, Asabalashe O. Johnson, and Wale Alade.
    In an affidavit in support of their application sworn to by the managing Director of mercury Oil Company Osita Onumonu and argued before the court by Mr. Norrison Quakers SAN, the deponent averred that, Sometime in February, 2014, Mercury Oil company was engaged in offshore operation to load Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), Relevant approvals were gotten, however the vessel and its crew members were arrested on suspicion of engaging in illegal operations
    After due investigation by the Nigeria Security and civil Defence Corps which is the body responsible for such investigation the vessel was cleared of any wrong doing or illegal activities and recommended that the vessel should be released, but the Nigerian Navy refused, and during the period the vessel was in detention, the 280,000 contain in the vessel was illegally siphoned by the Nigerian Navy.
    The product on board of the vessel was averred to have been financed by bank loan to the tune of #170 million,
 Consequently, the applicants while demanding for #200million as general damages urged the court not only to declare their arrest and detention illegal but to also declare as illegal and unlawful the siphoning of 280,000 liters of the AGO on board of their vessel.
     In spite of being served with the court process several times repeatedly, couple with several adjournments, Nigerian Navy and its Chief Of Navy Staff did not file any defence.
     In his judgement, justice Aneke acceded to the request of the applicants and ordered the respondents to pay #200million as damages to the applicants.

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