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N50 Million damages suit: Judge adjourns case to May 14

dollars , pounds missing
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, Nnewi
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An Onitsha High Court presided over by Hon Justice Mbaonu-Nwaenyi yesterday adjourned to May 14, 2013 for continuation of hearing in a case of claims of damages of N500 Million instituted by High Chief Chuma Nnoruka (Onowu of Awka Etiti) against Mrs Mercy Chikeluba over GMO's property at No C17 off Otigba Crescent, GRA , Onitsha.

The Judge could not proceed further in the suit No 0/ 232/2012 before Onitsha Judicial Division when the lead counsel to the accused PUP Onuorah was not present in court and his representative Lorita Ikwuka was apparently not prepared for the case.

The Plaintiffs counsel Alex Ifeanyi Agbogu reasoned with the defendant counsel Ikwuka to take a date for the case to be adjourned following the absence of the lead counsel who was allegedly caught up in traffic in Asaba.

''My client came from London and lives in Asaba but he is here early in the morning because of this case which is based on certified true copy of documents.

But the Representative of the defendant Counsel Lorita Ikwuka was not comfortable before the Judge demanded that if she was not comfortable she could excuse herself for the case to go on.

Agbogu said they were in court to claim damages of N50 Million of his client's property damaged and looted allegedly by Mrs Mercy Chikeluba and daughter believed to be misleading her mother.

''Execution was levied by a court that has no jurisdiction of hearing by Magistrate Court One in Onitsha presided over by U Okoye Esq, a Magistrate Grade one.

''And today the Plaintiff case opened and High Chief Chuma Nnoruka testified in Chief partly and proceeding could not continue because of the absence of the lead defense counsel and case was adjourned to May 14th and 21st ,2013 for continuation of hearing.

He informed that Mrs Chikeluba had a judgment execution levied in a premises Nnoruka has lawful occupation of in respect of the judgment delivered by a court without competent in jurisdiction.

He informed that following damages and losses the plaintiff suffered in course of execution of the ill conceived judgment , they are placing damages/claims of N50 Million naira.

It would be recalled that the plaintiff was a tenant of a Duplex at GMO (Godwin, Michael Okoye) and Co Limited property at No C17 off Otigba Crescent, GRA , Onitsha for 30 years.

According to statement of cliams by the Planitiff High Nnoruka (Onowu of Awka-Etiti),deposed by his counsel Alexander Ifeanyi . Agbogu Esq , the plaintiff is seeking a decalaration that the judgment obtained in suit No MO/256/2012 is null and void having been deleivered by a court without jursidiction.

''a decalaration that the judgment obtained is suit No MO/256/2012 was fraudulently and irregulalry obtained.

''a declaration that the execution levied on the properties and chattle of the plaintiff pursuant to the judgment in suit No/MO/256/2012 at the duplex is wrongful.

''an order setting aside the judgment in suit No MO/256/2012

''An order setting aside the execution levied on the plaintiff .

''a refund to the plaintiff of the sum of N1,200,000 (one million , two hundred thousand naira only) being the money paid to the defendant by the plaintiff through the Registry of the Onitsha Magistrate court

'' a refund of 5000 US Dollars and 5000 UK Pounds and N320,000.00 being the physical cash in the plaintiff's room.

''N50,000,000.00 being examplary , general and punitive damages.''

The statement of claims furter stated that Chief Nnoruka was in London when a call came across to him by his security men that some policemen were in his compound with suspected hoodlums. They were told that he was owing Mrs Mercy Chikeluba , whose late husband was a Director in GMO and when he inquired where the unwanted guests were from, the security men told him they were from lawyers from Onuorah Chambers acting for Mrs Chikeluba. His security said they were demanding N1.4 Million or they would break into his house and remove evreything .

''He pleaded for time to understand what they meant by N1.4 Milion because he was not owing Mrs Chikeluba any kobo but they broke into his property and brought all his belongings outside and because it was in the rainy season , rain soaked all his property even the thugs they came with stole many vaulable things in the house like cash both in foreign and local denominations as well as Golds and other valuables as well as that of his wife.

''They later left with his property to the Magistrate court premises including his two cars 406 Peugeot with Reg BG923YAB and Mercedes AR 583 AAA . His residence was invaded reclessly with aide of weilding machines which they used to force the doors open.

He was placed in a difficult position to negotiate with the defendant and afetr several discussions over the phone was the plaintiff agreed to pay the sum of N1.2 Million before he could salvage some of his property from Onitsha Magistrate court. He paid that before he touched his property again but by then many have been looted and many destroyed by rain.

'This is a house he has lived in the last 30 years and have never defaulted in his payment of rents. Mrs Chikeluba told him that the property he lived in was now her vested and exclusive right as the share of her late husband who was a Director in GMO before his death. She said that GMO shared property and her late husband got his property but nobody told him which he has a right to be informed.

''GMO company did not tell him either that his Landlordship has changed and suddenly a letter was sent by a lawyer that their chambers is acting on behalf of Mrs Mercy Chikeluba . Remember he have never paid to Mrs Mercy Chikeluba or her daughter Mrs Ngozi Nsofor but to GMO and nobody briefed him on the new status of a house he has lived in for 30 years.

''The letter informed that his rentage has changed from N280, 000 per annuam to N800,000 from 2010 and he has already paid rent for 2010 by then which he told Mrs Chikeluba and pleaded with her to reconsider the outrageous rent so that he can pay for 2011. She promised to look into it.

''And Chief Nnoruka was still in London for Medical threatment as all these were happening and before that nobody cared to inform him on position of things.

High Chief Chuma Nnoruka is claiming damages of N50 Million for the lost he suffered as a result of that execution of that Magistrate court judgment even without jurisdiction.

Magistrate Grade One has jurisdiction over a N750,000 case but this Magistrate presided over N1.4 Million case. And there were no procedures taken before the judgment was delivered.