Emirates Boeing 777 Seizure Ordered By Nigerian Court

***UPDATED 04/12/2019 @ 09:25 UTC following official response from Emirates***

Yesterday a report surfaced in Nigerian media showing an order has been issued by Nigerian federal court to seize an Emirates Boeing 777. This is because a judge has ruled that the airline owes 8.1 Nigerian Naira (approximately US$22,400) to a Nigerian citizen for expenses incurred when a ticket was canceled unexpectedly in 2007.

Emirates, Boeing 777, Turbulence
The ruling to seize the aircraft stems from a ticket cancelation in 2007. Photo: Emirates

Where it all started

According to official legal filings, the matter stems from a ticket purchased in 2007 for $2,067 USD to enable Miss Promise Mekwunye to travel from Dallas – Houston – Dubai – Lagos and back. The ticket was confirmed more than three times before Mekwunye’s travel date on 17th December 2007.

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On the day of her flight, Mekwunye showed up at the airport but was denied boarding without being given any reason for the denial. The filings state “she was merely told that the ticket had been canceled”. From here, no alternative plans nor accommodation were arranged by the airline.

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Mekwunye sought assistance from her father, who assisted her in purchasing another flight going out the next day. The flight was with a different airline using a longer route via London. The cost of this was US$3,200.

The matter was taken to court and in 2010 this is what the court had to say:

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“[Emirates] refusal to carry the (Appellant) from Dallas on the 17th December, 2007 amounts to a breach of contract of carriage with (her)…No limitation to liability applies here”.

Consequently, the trial Court ordered “the ticket refund to the (Appellant) should be in full without any deduction or charge,” with a “further grant of N2.5 million in general damages and N250,000.00 in legal costs” to the Mekwunye.

Appeal after appeal

The matter was then taken to a court of appeal where Emirates won. However, Mekwunye appealed this ruling and took it to the Supreme Court. At the very bottom of the document it states that the decision was held:

“…the Court found merit in the appeal and accordingly allowed same…The judgment of the Federal High Court was restored…”

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Emirates appealed the case after the first ruling and won. The case was then taken to the supreme court. Photo: Emirates.

Aircraft seizure

The most recent development now is that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the seizure of an aircraft belonging to Emirates Airlines until it settles what is owed to the appellant.

This is what Justice Mohammed Liman had to say upon his ruling:

“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.”

Media outlet Vanguard in Nigeria also reports that the judge has also ordered Emirates to also cover the cost of maintenance and custody of the aircraft while it’s held in Nigeria.

So far it doesn’t look like Nigerian authorities have taken action to seize an Emirates aircraft yet. The airline flies twice daily into Lagos on EK781 and EK 783. According to FlightRadar24 both return flights to Dubai (782 and 784) are still scheduled today.

We’ve contacted Emirates with a request for comment. Here’s what they had to say:

‘Emirates respects the judgement of the Supreme Court and will follow all legal procedures related to the specific case. In the meantime, Emirates will take every measure to safeguard its operations in Nigeria to avoid any disruption to our customers’.

Lagos Airport
Emirates flies from Dubai to Lagos twice per day. Photo: Lagos Airport

Conclusion

With the total funds owed to the appellant amounting to just over US$22,400, it would make economic sense for Emirates to transfer the funds immediately in order to avoid any disruption of its flights. The seizure of one of its aircraft could cost the airline far more in lost revenue.

We still don’t know why the Emirates ticket was canceled in the first place but it is certainly interesting that the airline has been so firm with its position – even appealing the initial ruling.

What do you think of this whole case? Should Emirates just pay up and move on? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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Farhan Nazar

Well this is a bit of strange situation isn’t it?

Keith Dunlop

Never fly this airline is my conclusion

Aviation_Fan

You have come to the wrong conclusion my friend.

Quentin

Wouldn’t be surprise if this Lady was a Judge’s relative or so!? Lived in Lagos for a while. This is something “common” there ^^

Gerry S

No one knows the full account of this case. Emirates defense is not stated, thus, barring additional information, no one can really render an opinion. I certainly cannot.

Yeah it should just pay up and move on…Grounded aircraft means more money is lost so It loses in the long run

Anonymous

Screw the nigerians for capturing the 777. I think Emirates be pissed n may take further actions if the nigerian auctions their 777

Craig

Pay the fine. This would promote good will between the Nigerian government, the airlines and passengers. This case has been sitting sincec2010. That is too long for a defence.
Pay the fine and put the issue behind you.i “The cost of doing business”.

TonytTDK

Paying the is settlement fee is the obvious thing to do.! But, it would be revealing to discover the reason why the ticket was cancelled in the 1st place.? That the ticket was ‘confirmed’ 3 times is odd in itself..? Maybe Emirates have an e-mail from the customer, cancelling the ticket. Maybe they’ve got something from their bank or a credit card company, indicating a lack of funds to pay or a dubious CC transaction.? Without their side of the story, it’s all speculation.!!! On the other hand, it would make a huge point, if the Emirates aircraft was impounded… Read more »

Aviation_Fan

Good written article. As for the lady, wow, her whole family must be in the law profession. Nothing like snatching up one of Emirates planes for something that happened like 12 years ago.

High Mile Club

I’m still confused as to how a $22k settlement also equates to seizing a multimillion aircraft. Demanding a refund for the ticket is one thing, but taking a plane over a mysteriously canceled ticket? Something isn’t adding up here.

pat baker

the airline never gave a hint as to why it did what it did. The way the ticket/contract is written gives nearly all power to the company, and it is nice to see the passenger win her case over the big bad company. Emeriates had best pay the money or lose the use of a 777 for what period of time it takes to settle the claim. And then learn a lesson and remember it always.

monty howard

Emirates, should pull all flights into and out of Nigeria and not return to service for the Nation. No country acts in good faith by demonstrating such obvious stupidity. No wonder the country has a reputation for its citizen’s scheming and scamming when their government sets examples like this.

Mazhar Islam

I think Emirates is acting very stupid in this case.The court is asking $22400 only,Emirates is a big airline,they can surely afford it,moreover,Emirates must have incurred legal fees almost equal to,or more than this amount.

Peter Lieberman

Sounds like one of the email scams or phone scales I get daily.

Zaki

My comment is that don’t comment without knowing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

RWoodworth

B.S………………. Never go to Nigeria, until we find out why her ticket for a flight was canceled. Was there fraud or no funds to cover the ticket cost, or was this an American Democrat causing trouble like at USA? This was probably an Muslim Terrorist tactic. If there was money involved, was the ticket refunded or not? Was there no money involved, or as we call fraud? Did they find illegal products in her luggage. TELL US MORE about the Emirates to cancel her ticket ?????????

Abel Onomake

The story is scanty as it was remiss in providing enough facts on why the customer was refused boarding in the first place.
That Emirates won at the appellate court seem to confirm that there’s more to this case than the eye can see at the moment.
As a Nigerian, i hate to see our citizens being stereotyped and discriminated any where, but i also want Nigeria to be seen as a place of fair play for big time international businesses.
We need more information on the underlying dynamics of this case.

VHAQ

US$22,400 is nothing for EK. They can just pay ’em quick

Miriam M

Pay it