Friday, November 24, 2017 2:53 pm
By Daniels Ekugo
Top executive directors of the WEMPCO Group in Nigeria, a Chinese conglomerate of multi-divisional entity, that is into hospitality, wood and iron manufacturing were left stranded penultimate Wednesday as Sheriffs from the Chief Magistrate Court of Lagos State, Holden at Court No 7, Ogba, Lagos State, Nigeria enforced an order of judgement by His Honour, Miss Y. J. Badejo-Okunsanya. She slammed a judgement fee of N11.663 million naira against the Chinese company, as vehicles belonging to the directors were towed away in lieu of the judgement fee, which WEMPCO has failed to pay since a year after judgement.
In a suit between Unibomec Technical Apex Limited, Mr Emmanuel Onaiwu (Plaintiffs) and WEMPCO Group of Company (Defendant) with Suit No MK/3445/2016 which judgement was delivered by His Lordship Miss Y.J. Badejo-Okusanya dated 6th December, 2016 stated thus:
“The Claimant claim for a debt in the sum of N2,543,000 being the total sum of the supply of N Beam 406 x 178 x 74 – 150 metres (13 length); Angle from 75 x 75 5.8 – 100 metres (25 length) to the Defendant which the defendant failed to pay since January 2014.”
According to the Judgement paper obtained from the court, “The Defendant was served with the processes as evidenced by the affidavit of service as well as that for the Hearing Notices which was subsequently served. Despite this the Defendant failed to appear in Court and did not file any defence effectively rendering the Suit undefended..”
The Court also heard from PW1 that “they supplied to the Defendant the items stated and these were received by the defendant’s officer in charge and was receipted dated 13/1/14. That the Defendants refused to pay the total sum of 2, 543, 000, 00 for the said supply despite several letters of Claimant to them. Exhibits A to H were tendered in furtherance of their case.
In the close of the Claimants case the Court ordered that hearing notice be issued and served on the Defendant for them to cross examine PW1 and deferred the matter. This was done with proof. At the end of the said hearing, the Defendant still failed to appear in Court.
The presiding magistrate in his judgement said “In line with the Supreme Court decision in Balogun V OBA (1992) 6 NWLR Page 354 where it was held that where a Plaintiff adduces oral evidence that establishes his claim against the Defendant in terms of the writ and the evidence is not rebutted by the defence, the plaintiff is entitled to judgement. In the instant case the Defendant was given enough opportunity to come to Court to defend the matter which is evident from the affidavit of service and hearing Notices issued.
“The standard of proof in civil cases is on the balance of probability and the onus is on the Defendant to prove to the contrary, thus the Defendant has not done leaving the Court noting to place on the other side of the proverbial imaginary scale leaving the Court with no other choice than to accept the Claimants testimony, hence the Court holds as follows: That the Defendant shall pay to the Claimant the sum of N2,543,000.00 being the sum of the supply of goods; the defendant should pay interest on the sum at the rate of 7 and half percent from the date the debt was owed until the debt is fully liquidated. It is further ordered that the Defendant shall pay to the Claimant cost of the this action assessed at N100,000.
With the judgement paper and recovery notice, the Sheriff Deputies went to the headquarters of the company at Wempco road, where 8 of their vehicles amongst them were top directors SUV’s were towed away. None of WEMPCO officials agreed to talk to the media during the enforcement, as they stayed away.
The company also pleaded with the Sheriff deputies wherein they immediately paid the sum of N3, 000,000 (Three Million Naira) cash to Mr Emmanuel Onaiwu, director of Unibomic Technical Apex Limited. And upon going to press, it was learnt that WEMPCO Group has reneged on paying the remaining balance and opted out to appealing the judgement.
Fielding questions from the media after the execution of the court order, the plaintiff counsel Barr. Eze G. Alala thanked the judiciary for showing restraint in the face of ‘big company, tiny fingers’ syndrome. “This case has been going on since 2014 and WEMPCO Group has deemed it fit not to enter into any dialogue with the plaintiff, with the mindset that it is a Nigeria with impunity from the judiciary, I thank the judiciary for stepping into and saving a poor man’s life.”
Similarly, those who responded to questions that pleaded anonymous lamented the high handedness of the company in court cases “This company is where I work, they treat Nigerians with levity, if you complain to them, you get an instant sack without benefits, I am happy seeing the first indigenous Nigerian to challenge them, there are lot of things that go on here, it is left for the government to beam their searchlight on them, atrocities go on here but please I am not to be quoted.