15-Year Old Debt: NIMASA Renews Legal Battle Against Facet Company

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National Maritime Authority now renamed Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has renewed its legal battle against a limited liability company, Facet Nigeria Limited and its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Chief Canice Etoh, for the recovery of 15-year old debt of $895,127.58.

The agency is also claiming N20 million as general damages as a result of breach of contract of the defendants.

In an amended statement of claim filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos by Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN), it was alleged that the Federal Government of Nigeria, in a bid to develop and encourage participation of indigenous companies in the shipping industry, Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund (SASBF), was established by National Maritime Authority to render financial assistance to indigenous companies desirous of purchasing or building ships.

Facet Nigeria Limited took advantage of this arrangement by writing an application dated 7 September, 1994 to the plaintiff, requesting for financial assistance under the SASBF.

After the process of the application, the agency informed the defendant that a loan of $1.25 million had been approved for the company and the defendant accepted the said loan and it was agreed that there would be a moratorium of one year from the date of disbursement and that the company shall pay interest on the $1.25 million loan at the rate of 3 per cent per annum.

It was also mutually agreed between the two parties that security for the loan shall be as follows: personal guarantee of Chief Canice Etoh and the late Aare Steve Fagbemi, first change on the company’s fixed assets and a second change on the company’s floating assets as well as domiciliation of the freight earnings into a designated account to be nominated by the plaintiff.

After the expiration of the one year moratorium on 6 April, 1996, the defendants failed to repay the loan as well as interest thereon in full but only paid part of the principal sum without any repayment of interest as only $746,178.49 was paid.

The plaintiff averred that up till date, the defendants have not repaid the principal sum of $895,127.58 as well as the accrued interest on it.

Therefore, the plaintiff’s claims against Facet Company and its Managing Director/CEO, Canice Etoh jointly and severally are as follows: the sum of $895,127.58  being unpaid portion as at 19 December, 2005, of the SASBF loan of $1.25 million and interest on same at the rate of 3 per cent per annum up till date of judgment and thereafter at the rate of 2 per cent per annum until the judgment fully liquidated by the defendants.

The plaintiff also seeks general damages of N20 million for losses suffered as a result of the defendants’ breach of contract.

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