Firm Petitions IGP Over NUE Offshore MD Igbinigie

A Dutch defence, shipbuilding, and engineering group has sent a petition to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr Kayode Egbetokun, accusing NUE Offshore Resources Limited – a company based in Lagos, and its managing director, Uyi Igbinigie of armed robbery against its ship anchored at the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) jetty in Warri, Delta State.

The petition, dated 4 February 2024, was submitted to the office of the Inspector General of Police on 5 February 2024 on behalf of Damen Charter International Ltd by its Solicitors, Adepetun, Caxton-Martins, Agbor & Segun.

A copy of the petition, titled “REPORT OF A CASE OF ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST ONE MR. UYI IGBINIGIE AND NUE OFFSHORE RESOURCES LIMITED”, sighted by this newspaper, stated that the ship robbery incident took place on February 2, 2024.

Recounting the events that led to the alleged robbery incident, the petition stated that Damen, as owner of the Fast Crew Supplier 1605 Aluminium vessel named MV NUE Swift, had in 2019 entered into an agreement with NUE, represented by its Managing Director, Uyi Igbinigie, for the charter and hire-purchase of the vessel, but after taking delivery of the vessel from Damen, NUE consistently failed to pay the monthly instalments it was obligated to pay to Damen as purchase price of the vessel, despite several demands for payment by Damen.

“Consequently, Damen terminated the charterparty/hire-purchase agreement and sought to repossess the vessel in accordance with the provisions of the charterparty/hire-purchase agreement.

“NUE and Mr. Uyi Igbinigie, however, hid the vessel and frustrated Damen’s efforts to repossess it. Damen commenced a suit at the Federal High Court, Warri Division and obtained an Order for the arrest of the vessel.

“The vessel was eventually traced and arrested with the assistance of the Nigerian Navy, and in accordance with the Order of Court, placed under the guard of the Nigerian Navy for safe keeping while under arrest.

“Damen subsequently discontinued the suit at the Federal High Court and secured the release of the vessel from arrest. Following the release of the vessel from arrest of court, Damen repossessed the vessel on 22 November 2023.

“After settling the costs and expenses incurred by the Nigerian Navy for safeguarding the vessel while under arrest, the Nigerian Navy handed the vessel over to the Admiralty Marshal of the Federal High Court, who in turn handed the vessel over to Damen on 1 February 2024.

“Damen then shifted the vessel to the National Inland Waterways Authority’s (NIWA) Jetty in Warri and handed it over to the Delta Area Office of NIWA for safe keeping,” the petition to the IGP reads.

The petition stated that in the night of 2 February 2024, at about 11.45pm, “agents of NUE and Mr. Uyi Igbinigie arrived at the NIWA Jetty, Warri accompanied by about fifteen armed men dressed in what appeared to be Nigerian Army uniforms in two Toyota Hilux trucks and one boat name “NUE Netty”, belonging to NUE”.

“They forcefully dislodged the officers of the Marine Police stationed to guard the vessel, beat up the vessel’s civilian security personnel who had to jump off the vessel’s rails and into the water to save his life. The men then used the boat they came in to tow the vessel to the NBTC Yard in Warri.”

The petitioners said in the morning of 3 February 2024, agents of NUE and Mr. Uyi Igbinigie were seen lifting the vessel, the name of which had been covered to prevent identification, with a crane in what appeared to be a move to remove it from the NBTC Yard.

“This was captured on camera, and we have watched the video. Based on the foregoing, the office of the Inspector-General of Police was requested to exercise its constitutional duty by promptly investigating the crime to bring all parties responsible for the armed robbery to justice and recover the stolen property,” the petition added.

However, Barrister ThankGod Nwugha who spoke on behalf of NUE Offshore Limited and Uyi Igbinigie, said there is a pending matter in court before Justice Aluko of Federal High Court.

“We filed that matter against Damien, the owner of the vessel. We brought a motion before the court asking the court to direct that the vessel should remain with us pending the examination of the suit, which the court granted. They were served with the order. They filed their responses and the matter is coming up on Tuesday this week,” he said.

He said the order was made on November 27, 2023. The chief security of the Navy were served, who were in the custody of the vessel and the court asked them to comply with the order of the court by handing the vessel to my client.

He said, “I didn’t know what the Navy did. Instead of handing over the vessel to us, they went to DCR Warri. Though, the Marine Police have the court order. The Marine Police arrested the vessel and handed it over to our client. As I’m talking to you now there is a notice of contempt that has been served to DCR Warri for not complying with the court order.”

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