Threatened by a N120 million Court judgment awarded to accident victims, three subsidiaries of BUA Group fight over ownership and auctioning of the six affected trucks in Kogi.
While BUA Transport claimed all the six trucks belong to it, BUA Foods Plc claimed two of them belong to it, while BUA Cement Plc also claimed four of the trucks already seized by the state High Court II in the execution of the judgment it gave last September.
Justice A.N. Awulu, High Court II, Lokoja, had on July 28, 2022, entered a judgment against BUA Transport and one Aliyu Usmam, in favour of four dead accident victims.
The deceased late Awuji Uzor, Stanley Ejeoma, Chima Ergemasi and Chima Emeka, all represented by Kingsley Obi and Chima Kenneth as plaintiffs in the matter instituted on Sept. 25, 2020.
The four victims were amongst the 12 persons that died in the accident of May 25, 2016, principally caused by the 2nd defendant, Aliyu Usman, the driver of BUA Transport with Registration Number Lagos KJA 403 XP Howo Sino Truck.
The said driver reportedly drove in a dangerous and reckless manner at a high speed without regard to other road users and without due care and attention left his lane and negligently collided with a Young Shall Grow Transport Toyota Hiace bus with Registration No. Lagos LSD 02 XP.
The bus caught fire and burnt the 12 passengers, including Chima Egemasi, Chima Emeka, Anuji Uzor and Stanley Ijeoma, resulting in their deaths.
Kingsley Obi and Chima Kenneth had approached the High Court through their Counsel, Mr Uche Enwerem, and got a judgment award for N120 million, which the company failed to pay the victims.
Irked by the non-response of the BUA Transport or BUA Group in paying the judgment award sum, the court ordered for the seizure of any property of BUA Group that could be auctioned to get the N120 million for the victims.
It was on that basis that six trucks of the BUA Group were seized sometime in September 2022 and kept in the High Court premises ready to be auctioned.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports in Lokoja that it was at that point that the three subsidiaries of BUA Group sent their lawyers to stop the sale of the trucks.
When the case came up for hearing before Justice A.N. Awulu, the three subsidiaries through their separate Counsels filed motions and affidavits claiming the ownership of the trucks to the amazement of the judgment creditors and the Court.
BUA Transport Limited in its motion and affidavit dated Nov. 30, 2022, deposed to by Mr Owaifo Ogedengbe, exclusively claimed that the whole six trucks belong to it and prayed the court to set aside the writ of attachment and release them to it.
The company claimed that the writ of attachment allegedly sent to it by courier did not get to it as expected, so they were not aware of any such attachment.
BUA Foods Plc on the other hand claimed in a separate motion and affidavit that two out of the six trucks belong to it and should be released to it since it has nothing to do with the case against BUA Transport.
Interestingly, Prof. Oladayo Amokaye (SAN), who stood as Counsel to BUA Foods Plc, and demanded for immediate release of the two HOWO Trucks DEG 652XA and NEM 197 XA registration numbers containing 900 bags of Flour and 900 bags of Sugar, is also the Counsel to BUA Cement.
Also on behalf of BUA cement, Amokaye, raised an objection to the purported seizure and planned to auction of the trucks by the Court on the ground that it has nothing to do with the accident that caused the death of the 12 persons on May 25, 2016.
But Enwerem, the counsel to the victims, raised preliminary objections to all their claims with counter motions and affidavits, which questioned why the fight over the ownership of the six trucks already seized for auctioning to recoup the N120 million judgment award to the victims.
He prayed the court to dismiss their claims and applications as “it’s their continued refusal to pay the judgment sum of N120 million in this case that led to the seizure of the trucks inclusive of the goods in them”.
Justice Awulu after hearing the submissions made by the judgment debtors and the judgment creditor adjourned the case to May 4 for a definite hearing of the case.