NEPZA describes contempt action against its MD/CEO misleading, unnecessary

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has described as misleading and unnecessary the contempt proceedings filed against its Managing Director, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba by two oil firms operating in the Calabar Free Trade Zone at the Federal High Court in Calabar.

BB Energy Holding Mauritius Limited and Samon Petroleum Limited (Trading as Samon Petroleum FZE (in receivership) initiated the contempt proceedings against the erstwhile directors – Samuel Okeke, Ogbonna Okeke and Ifesinachi Okeke and two officers of NEPZA- Adesugba and Mrs Nkechi Mbah.

The application was filed over the defendants’ alleged disturbance of a Receiver-Manager, Tobenna Nnamani of Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors.
The Plaintiffs’ counsel Adebanjo Adebusuyi, had informed the court that the management of the Calabar Free Trade Zone, acting on an order for status quo made on March 16, 2023, allegedly drove out the workers engaged by the receiver-manager.

The court action bothered on 1st Plaintiffs contractual right to appoint a Receiver Manager over an unpaid credit facility involving the principal sum of $3,697,500 and accrued interest of $1,000,448 as of June 30, 2021.

The NEPZA management has however, denied knowledge of being a party in the suit subsequent to which the order was made.

Adesugba also explained that the Authority had never taken any actions to undermine the courts in its function as the custodian of the country’s free trade zone scheme.

“As a lawyer with 34 years of experience, I shall be the last individual to brazenly overlook the court’s decision on any matter. Perhaps, the plaintiffs approached the court with an exparte application without putting the defendants on notice, that way, the zone Authority was not to blame as the actions could have been taken simultaneously.

“We have always encouraged all the zones’ managements and owners of enterprises within the zones to first seek peaceful resolutions of their disputes before considering any court actions. Since we have been dragged into this, we shall take steps to send legal representations.

We stand to respect all judicial proceedings as we encourage all parties to respect our courts and decisions of the courts. At NEPZA we are adherent to the practice of the rule of law as this is indeeed one of our selling points in attracting investors to our free zones.

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