A suit filed 10 years ago by Honeywell Group and its chairman, Dr. Oba Otudeko, seeking to eject billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and his companies, from a piece of land known as Fifth Apapa Wharf Extension in Lagos has been dismissed by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Otudeko and his company had urged the court to sack Dangote and his companies from the land measuring over 10.841 square metres and located at the Lagos Ports Complex and also prayed the court to award $48m against the defendants in their favour.
But in a judgment delivered on Thursday, 10 years after the suit was filed, Justice Okon Abang decided that Otudeko’s suit lacked merit and thus dismissed it.
Apart from Dangote, the other defendants in the suit are the Nigeria Ports Authority, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Dangote Industries Ltd, Dangote and Greenview Development Ltd.
The judge said contrary to the plaintiffs’ claim, he found no illegality in the manner Dangote acquired the land through an agent.
“It is my view that the second defendant lawfully granted the concession with the approval of the then head of state to the agent of Dangote,” Justice Abang held.
He declared that Otudeko failed to show any evidence that he suffered any loss to merit the $48m damages he was asking for.
He held, “As regards the monetary claims sought for by the plaintiff, My Lords, the plaintiff has not called evidence to justify the award of either special or general damages in this matter. I so hold.”
The judge, however, ordered Otudeko to pay a cost of N50,000 to each of the four defendants.
“The suit of the plaintiff lacks merit and is hereby dismissed with a cost of N50,000 awarded in favour of first and second defendant, and again the cost of N50,000 awarded in favour of the third to fifth defendant payable by the plaintiff,” the judge held.
Otudeko and his companies had, in their suit, claimed that NPA leased the land to them for five years for a bulk food handling facility at N2.168m per year. It said it paid the sum, as well as N290,000 for land survey.
Honeywell said it took possession of the land to the defendants’ knowledge and conducted technical studies on the facility, spending millions of dollars in the process.
The plaintiff said despite being aware of its massive development plans on the land, the BPE suddenly suspended the pre-existing rights by concessioning NPA’s Apapa Ports Complex, including the Fifth Apapa Wharf Extension to Greenview, owned by Dangote.