Leeds, England — The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA, has refuted the contempt proceedings brought 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 former directors – Samuel Okeke, Ogbonna Okeke, and Ifesinachi Okeke – as well as two NEPZA officers, Adesugba and Mrs. Nkechi Mbah.
The application was filed due to the alleged interference by the defendants with a Receiver-Manager, Tobenna Nnamani of Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors.
The Plaintiffs’ counsel, Adebanjo Adebusuyi, informed the court that the management of the Calabar Free Trade Zone, in violation of a status quo order made on March 16, 2023, purportedly expelled the workers engaged by the receiver-manager. The court action pertains to the 1st Plaintiff’s 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.
However, NEPZA’s management has denied any knowledge of being a party to the lawsuit, subsequent to the issuance of the order.
Adesugba further clarified that the Authority has never taken any actions to undermine the court’s authority as the custodian of the country’s free trade zone scheme.
“As a lawyer with 34 years of experience, I am committed to upholding the court’s decisions in all matters. It is possible that the plaintiffs approached the court with an ex parte application without notifying the defendants, which may explain the simultaneous actions taken.
“NEPZA always encourages amicable resolutions of disputes among zone managements and enterprise owners before resorting to legal action.
“Since we have been dragged into this matter, we will take appropriate steps to provide legal representation. We hold utmost respect for all judicial proceedings and urge all parties involved to respect our courts and their decisions.
“At NEPZA, adherence to the rule of law is a cornerstone of our operations, and it serves as a significant factor in attracting investors to our free zones,” Adesugba said.
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