The case between South Asia Timber Resources and AKEWA Group of Companies at the Commercial Court, Temple of Justice, has taken a convoluted twist after judges allegedly vacated the attachment without Akewa filing a valid bond.
South Asia Timber Resources (SATR), which is own Bangladeshi and a Liberian, has been at odds with the Akewa Group of Companies, a Nigerian owned logging company, over the payment of several hundred thousand of United States Dollars purportedly made to purchase logs from Akewa. SATR accused Akewa of failing to provide logs it has paid for since 2018.
The General Manager of SATR Mr Akin expressed deep concern about the handling of its case.
“The root cause of our case is to stop all shipments,” George Akin, the General Manager of SATR, said to this newspaper. “We filed our case when she was ready to ship. Unfortunately, Justice Nagbe vacated the first attachment without a valid bond. More recently, Judge Othello Payman has lifted the latest attachment without a valid bond. While our lawyers have objected, the hearing has been delayed giving AKEWA ample time to ship those logs to other buyers while it is indebted to SATR.”
Akewa did not respond to our queries on these accusations. Despite posing questions via WhatsApp text messages and placement of direct phone calls, it did not answer.
In September 2021, SAT filed an attachment against Akewa for the purpose of securing US$448, 557.11.
It said Akewa took as credit. Under the law, Akewa should file a bond or marketable assets to indemnify the SAT claims. Akeya already admitted to its indebtedness but has not honored terms of payment since it took the money, SATR said.
The barely two months ‘old legal dispute has also seen a dramatic turn. A receipt bearing the credit deal between SATR and AKEWA is in possession of this paper.
On his last day as Justice in chamber, Associate Justice Joseph N Nabe vacated the attachment without Akewa submitting a bond or any surety, according to court documents seen by this news organization. This means that SATR’s claims is not secured, legal experts say. An attachment is only vacated by a valid bond or an asset.
The case got a second twist after Justice Yusuf Kaba took over as Justice in Chamber and instructed that he could do nothing with Justice Nabe’s order but the mandate should be read in court and after that SATR could file a new request for attachment. SATR did. The attachment was placed on Akewa’s logs, court documents showed.
Justice Nagbe did not have a hearing on the Writ of Certiori that was filed, according to court records.
Court’s minutes seen by this newspaper show the application was a two-page document without any bond. Unable to find an insurance company to provide surety.
Akewa, which is owned by Funke Qdedunmi, a Nigerian businesswoman, filed requesting for the lifting of the attachment using its community forest management agreement with Beyan Poye Community in Margibi. On the basis of this, the Judge Othello Payman vacated the attachment.
The case is now testing the impartiality of judges, a cardinal function of the dispensation of fair justice, our investigation has unearthed.
The move comes at a time when the Chief Justice Francis Korkpor is also under the spotlight for shielding judges from criticisms.
Aside from the legal issues, Akewa has been having problems in communities where it operates.
Villagers are not happy with the company’s operation in Margibi and Grand Cape Mount counties. Akewa has been in the headlines for not honoring her commitments to the people of Beyan Poye. Some locals who spoke with this paper in the community accused the company of abandoning its concession, and townspeople there are demanding the deal be squashed.
“There’s nothing we are benefiting from Akewa. Our community is suffering. We cannot see the clinics, roads, schools, and other social benefits that it promised,” a resident of Beyan Poye, who claimed anonymity for fear of facing reprisal, said.
Our effort to get AKEWA’s immediate reaction on this matter proved unsuccessful. We are still
Investigating this claim.
This is not the first time that Akewa has come to the public glare. In nearly ten years of operation, the company has had multiple litigations including UBA, Mandra Forestry and SATR, all of which have proven uphill legal battle for it.
In the process, Ms Funke has developed a cozy relationship with many judges, according to cogent judicial sourced.
“She will bribe anyone to get her way, a person familiar with AKEWA cases reacted”, one informer hinted this paper.
According to a person familiar with Akewa’s operations, she has defrauded so many foreign and local investors. One of the investors, unsure of getting Justice in Liberia lured her to Vietnam where she was eventually detained for an entire month on fraud charges.
In March 2019, Akewa was in the news for parading fake tax clearance. There are reports the company is currently indebted to its employees. We are corroborating this information and findings would be released in our subsequent publication.