Nigeria: U.S.$1.6 Million, N50 Million Judgment - Court Dismisses Emirates Airlines' Application for Stay of Execution

23 February 2021

Attempt by Emirates Airlines not to pay judgment sum of $1.630 million and N50 million awarded against it by a Federal High Court in Lagos for unlawful conversation of a businessman's money, met a brickwall yesterday, as Justice Muslim Sule Hassan dismissed the airline's application for stay of execution of the judgment.

The judge said the application was lacking in merit.

Justice Hassan had on January 11, awarded the judgment sum against the airline, while delivering judgment in a suit filed by the businessman, Mr. Orji Prince Chu Ikem.

The businessman had sued Emirates Airlines in a suit numbered FHC/L/CS/1006/2009, for illegally and unlawfully converting his money totalling $1,630 million, during a business trip from Lagos to China, in 2007.

He had consequently asked the court for an order compelling the airline to pay him the $1.630 million and N50 million, for the untold hardship he was subjected to as a result of the said illegal and unlawful conversion of his hand luggage that warehoused the said $1.630 million.

Emirates Airlines through its counsel, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN) had denied the businessman's allegations and urged the court to dismiss the businessman's suit.

But Justice Hassan had on January 11, 2021, while delivering judgment in the suit, upheld the businessman's reliefs and dismissed the airline's defence.

Justice Hassan consequently ordered Emirates Airlines to pay the businessman the sum of $1.630 million and N50 million.

Dissatisfied with the court's order, Emirates Airlines through its counsel, appealed the judgment and urged Justice Hassan to stay execution of his order pending the determination of its appeal.

Urging the court to stay execution, Kalu told the court that though his client could pay the money to the judgment creditor, but they are afraid that if his client's appeal succeeds at Appeal Court, the judgment creditor will not be able to pay back the money.

He said: "We found out that the judgment sum is huge and the judgment creditor doesn't have the capacity at the moment to refund that sum; this is why we call for variation before the exhaustion of judicial processes.

"We urge the court to hold that the balance and if our appeal succeed, can he pay back the money? I urge the court to order him to show us guarantee that he can pay the money and a declaration for his livelihood".

Responding to the airline's application, the businessman through his counsel, Chief Chris Ekemezie and Anayo Alpheus Mbah, urged the court to dismiss Emirate Airlines' application for stay and to make an order compelling it to pay the judgment sum into the court's account, pending the determination of the appeal filed by the airlines.

The businessman's counsel while citing Section 32 of the rule of the court, asked the court to order the airline to deposit the judgment sum in the Federal High Court's account, pending the determination of the appeal.

He also told the court that the issue that his client should make an undertaken is not applicable. While added that the airlines' further affidavit was out of time.

He also told the court that the airline's further affidavit arguments are legal opinion, which is an offence to section 115 of the Evidence Act.

He therefore urged the court to strike out the airline's application for stay on judgment sum, for being unconvincing and order it to pay the money into the court's account.

Delivering ruling on the applications, Justice Hassan, dismissed the airline application for stay for lacking in merit.

In dismissing the application, Justice Hassan held: "The application has not satisfied the conditions to make the court to exercise its discretion in its favour for granting the application.

"Consequently, the application is lacking in merit and same is accordingly dismissed".

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