Nigerian Court Orders Seizure Of Emirates 777

Filed Under: Emirates

There’s an order in Nigeria to seize an Emirates 777 when it lands in Lagos!

Nigeria’s Emirates’ 777 Seizure

A federal high court judge in Lagos, Nigeria, has ordered the seizure of an Emirates Boeing 777. This comes after a motion was filed seeking for the enforcement of a Supreme Court judgment in a suit between a Nigerian citizen and the airline. The airline owes N8.1 million, which is ~22,375USD.

With this decision, Justice Mohammed Liman ruled the following:

“It is accordingly ordered that an attachment is hereby issued on the judgment debtor’s aircraft registered as ‘A6 Aircraft Type 77W EK: 783/784’, or any other aircraft belonging to the judgment debtor which flies into Nigeria Territory, to be arrested and detained until the judgment debt is fully paid: in default after 30 days, the aircraft shall be auctioned to satisfy the judgment debt.”

The judge has also ordered that Emirates is responsible for the cost of maintenance and custody of the aircraft while it’s held in Nigeria.

Emirates operates 2x daily flights between Dubai and Lagos. Best I can tell they’re currently operating as scheduled in both directions.

What Exactly Led To This?

This situation seems to involve a case between Emirates Airline and Promise Mekwunye that dates all the way back to 2007 (at least that’s my belief, based on doing some Googling).

The person in question was booked on an Emirates itinerary from Dallas to Houston to Dubai to Lagos and back. The ticket was booked seven months in advance, and the ticket was “confirmed” more than three times before the travel date of December 17, 2007.

However, when the passenger showed up at the airport she was denied boarding, and “no reason was given to her.”

So she had to purchase a ticket for $3,200 from Dallas to London to Dubai to Lagos, a route that took a “stressful” 48 hours to complete.

This case has been fought for over a decade, it would appear, and the legal costs have racked up, which is why the total is now nearly 10x the original amount.

At least it’s my understanding that this is the cause, because when I Google the person’s name and the airline, that’s the only case that comes up. If I’m totally off base, someone please correct me.

Bottom Line

For a huge international airline, it’s not worth canceling flights over ~$23,000. I’ll be curious to see if Emirates just pays the amount, or if we do see a 777 seized for some amount of time, because perhaps Emirates will appeal the decision on principle.

  1. Hah!

    Who knows *who* will be maintaining the the aircraft (and at what cost?)

    $22,000 vs 300 million dollar plane… Crazy situation if you ask me. Would have been better for Emirates to just pay for the original $3,000.

  2. Is it common for a country to do this? I’ve never heard of anything like this. I guess we’ll know the verdict in a few hours are EK781 is scheduled to depart for Nairobi in about 2 hours.

  3. This is Nigeria … most likely Promise was denied as she was late and held a grudge for 12 years It’s rather strange this case went on so long .. there’s more to it. You are not refused “ for no reason “. Smells fishy.

  4. It would have been interesting to hear Emirates side of the Nigerian court case; or perhaps they chose to ignore it …

  5. You can read case on line. Dallas Houston Dubai Lagos and was refused boarding at Dallas. That would be on American or united not emirates. I guess the ticket was cancelled and she was advised to refer to the issuing airline – emirates and seems a travel agent involved
    The court says emirates is wrong for refusing carriage from Dallas to Houston ? I guess they don’t know much about their network

    It sounds suspicious this case has gone on 12 years As I said … fishy

  6. Very Fishy Indeed. What about statute of limitations? 12 Years and she’s still able to get a ruling?? From a legal perspective, this is only possible if both parties were actively involved and the matter for some reason took that long to reach a verdict. (Again breach of contract cases don’t usually take that long to resolve).
    I can say it’s most likely corruption, she must’ve known or is related to someone who is able to influence the ruling in their favor.
    Also as mentioned, the ticket is issued from Dallas, thus it falls under American and/or UAE Jurisdiction not Nigerian.
    If the 777 was actually seized, I can see that if the government interferes, it’ll cause a much greater issue than the actual amount.
    (Plus Nigerian Courts putting the interest of their citizens ahead, must be a joke)

  7. After hearing the boarding was denied in DFW, this sounds like a case of DYKWIA with connections in Lagos.

  8. 12 years sounds fishy? Well… For any of you frequent flyer who’s justice knowledge are based on series and dramas, must be crazy that a case ruled in more than few episodes.

    Then again, there’s appeal and so on… So… Yes… Its long, but not fishy.

  9. Good for the passenger. Honestly.
    I don’t know if these are the facts, but let’s assume the flight was booked via emirates, regardless of the carrier form Dallas to Houston.
    If I pay emirates, and emirates accepts my money, I don’t care what any laws state. It’s the person I paid’s responsibility to ensure they deliver what I paid for. They accepted my money in exchange for goods/services. Period.
    As far as statute of limitations and everyone’s understanding of the law, unless you’re well versed in Nigerian law, trying to apply American law here is pointless. It’s their country. It’s their courts, and it’s their justice. While it does sound ludicrous to seize a plane worth hundreds of millions vs literally a few thousand dollars, why not? Why does a big airline get to play by different rules? A judgement was awarded. Pay it or gtfo. It’s very simple. Fairness isn’t the issue. Emirates still expects to profit by flying in and out of Lagos, so why shouldn’t have to abide by their legal standard? Simple as that to me.

  10. I guess with her connections, it’s easier for her to go after Emirates in Nigeria than to go after American in the US.

  11. Great, we barely know the details and people are already hammering the pax. Classic.
    (And if the ticket is issued by Emirates, why should she go after American?

  12. It’s typical for cases to take several years before coming to trial. It easily adds several more if the verdict is appealed.

    Should a plaintiffs prevail they get a judgement, which is basically an order by the court for the defendant to pay what the court has determined. If the defendant doesn’t pay then the plaintiff has to enforce the judgement, generally by attaching a defendant’s property. That usually gets their attention and they almost always pay the judgement but if not the plaintiff’s recourse is to have the property be sold at auction with the proceeds used to pay their judgement.

    It sounds like Emirates didn’t pay the judgement so the plaintiff moved to attach an asset that was within the jurisdiction of the court. Emirates could have avoided having the plane impounded by either winning the case in the first place, winning on appeal or once having lost and exhausted their appeals, paid the judgement.

    Without the right to seize assets when a losing party doesn’t pay a court order there would be no reason for them to do so. This seems to have been going on for years so Emirates must have had lots of notice and opportunity to pay but choose not to.

  13. @sjz. You don’t care about the law. Ol. Enough said. Nigerian law doesn’t apply between Dallas and Houston. Anyhow it’s Nigeria so enough said

  14. Am surprised that why people are saying things like why the case too long and why Nigerian law. But before the judgement was passed am sure Emirates were given a notice but they took it for granted bcos they feel nothing will happen. Some saying American this and American that but the woman booked the flight from Nigeria so while will she attack Americans. Am sure most of you commenting if you are the one in her shoe,you will seek more compensation after all these years. Some saying something fishy,I believe after all these yrs Emirates should have resolved this issue bfor now. Well we don’t need to jump into conclusion like that until we hear the response from Emirates.

  15. AJ says:
    December 2, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Is it common for a country to do this? I’ve never heard of anything like this. I guess we’ll know the verdict in a few hours are EK781 is scheduled to depart for Nairobi in about 2 hours.

    It’s happens in the UK. someone makes a small claims court claim against an airline, judgement entered, airline fails to pay. Claimaint then gets a High Court enforcement Order (it does not hear the case just issues an order to enforce the lower judgment) and the Sheriffs (not the same as US ones) go and enforce the order and try and get the money.

    They give the company a short period of time to pay but in the meanwhile will look for assests to seize if necessary. In some cases the only asset is a plane so yes they can seize it until the debt is paid.

    In most cases the debt is paid there and then – even if it’s the station manager using their own credit card.

    Being airside is no bar to enforcement as the sheriffs have right of entry to enable them to enforce the order but they would rather do it by consent than breaking down a door.

  16. So many lawyers on this forum. Who knew? In any event, there are simply not enough facts set forth in the article to make an informed decision on the merits of the case. There certainly are circumstances where Nigerian law and jurisdiction could apply. And a statute of limitations would generally prevent the initiation of a suit after a certain period of time from when the cause of action arose. It wouldn’t prevent a civil matter from running many years.

  17. Talk about coincidence… I just received an email from a Nigerian “businessman” who offered to sell me a Boeing 777 for an extremely attractive price. I wonder if there’s a connection?

  18. Wow, there are an amazing number of unqualified people trying to practice law in this forum. First of all, if any of you read the judgment Lucky linked to and not just this summary, the plaintiff purchased the ticket in Lagos, so the contract was formed there. Nigerian law applies and Nigerian courts have jurisdiction. Performance in Dallas would not overrule that. Second, even in the US this case could have taken 10 years to reach the Supreme Court and would have a 2 year statutory filing deadline, so why would you expect things to be instantaneous in Nigeria?

    The thing I picked up was that Emirates desk agent was pretty shady and left the company in the middle of the refund process without telling the passenger but kept pushing for the refund (apparent vs actual agency) and that Emirates lawyers raised issues on appeal they didn’t raise at trial (lack of notice) both of which would have screwed Emirates in any jurisdiction. Throw in interest and court costs and 2K becomes 23K pretty quick.

  19. I’m very familiar with Nigeria, its people and the entrenched interests of corrupt politicians and members of the judiciary. It’s a joke that the government and judiciary would ever bother to act in the interests of Joe Citizen unless Joe had powerful political or business connections.

    The “fishyness” comes in the form of undue influence from big friends/family. End of story.

  20. I used to work in Nigeria some years ago and only there could this happen.

    Perhaps she was denied boarding because there weren’t enough notes in her passport at check in or perhaps she was late to the gate because there weren’t enough notes in her passport at one of the many checks between check in and the gate or there was nothing given to help the security staff out. They are the most likely reasons.

    As a Brit sometimes you could face them down and at other times it was better to pay the bribes and yes, this was Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

    In those days the service to London was operated by British Caledonian and I can’t tell you the relief on every occasion of passing the the Lion Rampant sign on the jetty which was the last possible place you could be stopped for a bribe and then the warm welcome of the tartan clad BCal lassies at the doors of their DC10s – and they never forgot you had a choice!

    It’s a very sexist video these days but this is a fair representation of travel back then!

  21. Ernest Alleva-your bigotry and hypocrisy is what is disgusting. You automatically side a big airline against a single passenger. If it was a European victim the story would change. Your hatred is noted.

  22. All the UK citizens slamming Nigeria is so ironic. The NHS is taking 5000 Nigerian doctors in the next 12 months or so that have cost the Nigerian govt millions and millions -at $100,000 to train each. This is how the UK continues to rob its former colonies and you have the audicity to slam a country where you have stolen so much over the years. Among European workers in Nigeria UK constructuon workers are notorious foe their shoddy workmanship. Many wouldn’t even make it as plumbers back in the UK yet they go around the world with arrogance from past glory. Shameful ignorance.

  23. @Phil Duncan

    You’ve brought back some very unpleasant memories. In 1976/77, I worked in the oil exploration business in Nigeria, which, as you have correctly implied, was riddled with corruption from top to bottom. Like you, I well remember having to stuff my passport with notes in order to be allowed through customs and security checks to board planes back to the UK. The feeling of relief when the door closed was palpable.

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