Nigeria: Court Orders Seizure of Emirates Airline's Aircraft Over N8m Judgment Debt

2 December 2019

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday ordered the seizure of an aircraft belonging to Emirates Airline over an N8.1 million judgment debt.

The order was sequel to a motion filed by Dr. Charles Mekwunye seeking the enforcement of a Supreme Court judgment in a suit between Promise Mekwunye and the airline.

Granting the reliefs sought by Mekwunye, Justice Mohammed Liman held that "it is accordingly ordered that an attachment is hereby issued on the judgment debtor's aircraft registered as 'A6 Aircraft Type 77W EK: 783/784', or any other aircraft belonging to the judgment debtor which flies into Nigeria Territory, to be arrested and detained until the judgment debt is fully paid. If there is default after 30 days, the aircraft shall be auctioned to satisfy the judgment debt."

The judge also ordered that Emirates Airline to bear the cost of maintenance and custody of the detained aircraft.

Miss Mekwunye, who was then a student of North Texas University, Denton, Texas, United States had in 2008 dragged the airline to court for refusal of her two-way flight ticket from Dallas to Nigeria and back for no reason and for also refusing to fully refund the cost of the American Airline ticket she bought for her return trip to Nigeria.

She claimed that the airline offered no reason for its action leaving her stranded for days at the airport until she was able to secure a more expensive flight ticket on a longer route to Lagos.

In a judgment delivered on November 15, 2010, the Federal High Court held that the refusal of Emirates Airline to carry Mekwunye amounted to a breach of contract of carriage.

Consequently, the court ordered a full refund of the ticket without any deduction or charge and further granted N2.5 million in general damages and N250,000 in legal costs against the airline.

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