A Lagos business woman, Ms. Maryann Chukwueke has dragged the former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Anthony Chukwueke, who is now the Chairman, Board of Directors of Germaine Auto Centre Company before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Joined as co-respondents are Germaine Auto Centre Limited, secretary of the company, Martha Etemu, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Deputy Commissioner of Police, State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, Lagos, and an Assistant Commissioner of Police Oketunji Lawrence Bola.
In an affidavit sworn to by Maryann Chukwueke, she averred that she is a founding member of Germaine Auto Centre Company and has over the years contributed to its growth and development.
Germaine Auto Centre is a family business owned by her and other siblings. Anthony Chukwueke is a member of the family who was working in the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, when the company was set up but used his status and accumulated wealth to muscle her and some other siblings out from the management of the company.
Thereafter, she established her own company called Admiralty Motors Limited sometimes in 2002, which she had successfully managed and grew into a well-known brand in the country.
However, sometimes in 2019 Anthony Chukwueke seeing her exploits and how she had successfully managed her own company, approached her to come and assist with the management of Germaine Auto Centre. After much pleas from him and all members of the family including her mother, she accepted to assist the company.
She successfully managed the company and made it a viable business enterprise, and the company under her management has also expanded its operations.
However, in April 2021 she noticed that Anthony Chukwueke was representing her company, Admiralty Motors Ltd assets as his own and he had even gone forward to do evaluation of her company in the name of Germaine Auto Centre Limited.
Also, within the same period she noticed that Anthony had caused a solar panel to be installed on her company’s property located at Shapata, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State without informing her or seeking her consent
The activities of Germaine Auto Company vide the instrumentality of Anthony Chukwueke caused her to believe that the company, Anthony Chukwueke, and Martha Etemu were making efforts to unlawfully claim her company and its assets.
Consequently, she locked up the premises to prevent trespass on the property.
Thereafter, they mobilized thugs, hoodlums in company with some of Germaine Auto Centre staff to forcefully invade the Admiralty Motor premises. But when they were unable to gain entrance into the premises, they sought for the assistance of the Nigerian Police at Elemoro, where criminal allegations were made against her.
She was invited by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, and on September 23, 2021 she honoured the invitation and was interviewed by the DPO. Since there was no evidence to substantiate their allegations against her, the DPO had no choice than to let her go.
Since then, according to the affidavit, she has been receiving several threatening and disturbing phone calls from Anthony Chukwueke, Martha Etemu and their agents including several Police Officers.
Also, they approached the Police at Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos to harass and threaten her.
On September 26, 2021 Anthony Chukwueke sent her a letter purporting to have suspended her indefinitely.
Consequently, the applicant while claiming the sum of N80million as exemplary and aggravated damages jointly and severally against the respondents is urging the court to restrain the Police and its officers from inviting, arresting, detaining or harassing her over a purely civil or commercial transaction between her and the two respondents, Anthony Chukwueke and Martha Etemu.
The applicant is also urging the court to restrain the two respondents from interfering with the property belonging to her. She is also asking for N5million as the cost of this legal action.
In a counter affidavit sworn to by Martha Etemu, Human Resources and Administration of Germaine Auto Centre, for herself and on behalf of Germaine Auto Centre and Anthony Chukwueke, while denying almost all the averments of the Applicant averred that Maryann Chukwueke does not hold shares in Germaine Auto Centre in her personal capacity, but only does collectively and jointly by virtue of her membership of the Nwawuba-Chukwueke family. The said Nwawuba-Chukwueke family is a major shareholder in the company and allocation of shares has been put off until Germaine Auto Centre satisfied its indebtedness in full and reverts in entirety to the Nwawuba-Chukwueke.
She stated further that Germaine Auto Centre was founded in 1998 by a certain Chief Jerry Chukwueke, brother to both the Applicant, Anthony Chukwueke and Martha Etemu.
Etemu averred further that the Applicant was an Executive Director and staff (VP Sales) with Germaine Auto Centre until her recent suspension for the reason of her invasion of one of the company’s facilities, which is Admiralty Motors Ltd located at Shapata, Lagos.
The deponent stated that Anthony Chukwueke meritoriously served the Federal Government of Nigeria for many years in various capacities including but not limited to the Department of Petroleum Resources. She said further that at the time of the applicant’s exit from Germaine Auto Centre about 2002, Anthony Chukwueke was manager at Shell Petroleum Development Company, with no direct involvement in the management or day to day running of Germaine Auto Centre which was at that time chaired and managed by Chief Jerry Chukwueke.
Also, she deposed that Admiralty Motors Ltd is not solely owned by the Applicant but owned by the members of Nwawuba-Chukwueke collectively and jointly.
Following the Applicant’s exit from Germaine Auto Centre in 2002, the Nwawuba-Chukwueke family members incorporated Admiralty Motors Ltd with the aim of providing an alternative employment for family members who could not remain in Germaine Auto Centre for one reason or the other. The said incorporation was backed by and funded by Anthony Chukwueke. The Applicant only assumed the position of Directors and that in no way made her a sole owner of Admiralty Motors Ltd.
Consequently, the respondents stated that their interest shall be prejudiced if the application of the Applicant is granted.
Meanwhile, based on an application filed and argued by a Lagos lawyer O. I. Ogunseitan on behalf of Maryann Chukwueke, the presiding Judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke has issued an order for the maintenance of status quo pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion.
The case has been adjourned till February 2, 2022 for hearing.