28th October, 2010
An employee of a shipping company, Supermaritime Nigeria Limited, Desmond Anumudu,Â whose liberty is being threatened because of the disappearance of a worker on boardÂ a ship, has dragged the Inspector-General of Police before a Federal High Court inÂ Lagos.
Others joined as co-defendants in the case are the Commissioner of Police, LagosÂ State; Commissioner of Police in charge of Homicide Section, Alagbon, Ikoyi, LagosÂ and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department,Â Lagos.
In an affidavit, Anumudu averred that he is an employee of Supermaritime NigeriaÂ Limited, who is in turn, is the local agent and representative of owner of MVÂ Silveretta in Nigeria.
He averred further that about 4 April this year, Supermaritime Limited received aÂ formal invitation from the Homicide Section of the Nigeria Police to report at itsÂ office at Alagbon in connection with an alleged case of conspiracy and murder.
Upon receipt of the said invitation, the deponent and one Mr. Jonathan Markus,Â honoured the invitation only to be confronted with a petition written on behalf ofÂ the family of one Mr. Akinduro Boluwaji, alleging a case of murder for disappearanceÂ of Boluwaji on board the vessel, Silveretta, on 8 November, 2009 when it was inÂ Lagos discharging cargo.
Akinduro Boluwaji was said to have been last seen on board the vessel when he cameÂ there briefly and consequently, Anumudu was detained but later released when hisÂ employer paid N200,000 and was told to return for further questioning.
Supermaritime then briefed the law firm of Femi Atoyebi (SAN), who requested toÂ question one Adeolu Olanrewaju, who in his testimony, admitted that the allegedÂ missing man, although a staff of his company, Jomalic, was not on duty with him onÂ the night of 8 November, 2009, but was on another vessel nearby named Orienda andÂ that he only came to sleep on the vessel, Silveretta, for a few hours.
Adeolu Olanrewaju also alleged that no other crew member knew or was aware of theÂ presence of the alleged missing man and that there were three policemen officiallyÂ on board the vessel that night.
In view of this, the plaintiffs alleged that it is a clear case of blackmail by theÂ family of the alleged missing man to make people believe that he actually died onÂ board the vessel.
Since the incident, the family of the missing man had demanded $100,000 asÂ settlement and sensing the unwillingness of the vessel owners to pay such amount, itÂ was reduced to $30,000 and subsequently, $10,000.
The plaintiff has since then been inundated by police invitations and interrogationsÂ as well as telephone calls, putting him under pressure to pay the compensation.
In view of this alleged intimidation, the plaintiff is urging the court to declareÂ that any claim, be it civil or criminal, arising out of the alleged disappearance ofÂ the said Akinduro Boluwaji while on board of the vessel, Silveretta, is purely aÂ general maritime claim in admiralty cognisable only to Federal High Court.
The plaintiff also wants the court to declare that no other government agencyÂ including but not limited to the Nigeria Police Force or other security outfits thanÂ a court of law is entitled to harass or detain him in relation to this matterÂ without an express order of the court.
Justice Binta Murtala Nyako has adjourned for further hearing.