Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
An Enugu Federal High Court has ordered the arrest and committal of Chief Ifediba Samson Umejidike to the Enugu prison for diverting court exhibits of STIHL products belonging to a German company.
Chief Umejidike had allegedly registered the famous STIHL trademark belonging to Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG, a world-renowned German company known for manufacturing the STIHL range of power products, which include chainsaws and other handheld power equipment. Umejidike is also alleged to have acted as a trademark troll and unlawfully registered a company in Nigeria using the company name of Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG.
With these registration documents, Chief Umejidike was said to have obtained an Anton Pillar Order which was executed in Lagos at the premises of the C. Woermann Nig. Ltd, the Nigerian sole distributors of STIHL range of products in Nigeria.
After the execution, Umejidike hijacked STIHL products worth several million of naira, which were meant to be taken to the court in Enugu State, diverting the products to his house at Anambra State. He refused to return the products even when the court bailiffs came to his house in Anambra State to recover the STIHL products.
Ruling on the contempt proceedings initiated by Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG and C. Woermann Nig. Ltd on the diverted STIHL products, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice R.O. Dugbo-Oghoghorie, noted that it was an affront to the court that Chief Ifediba Samson Umejidike, having misled the court to obtain an ex parte order now stopped coming to court and started using different counsel to try and shield himself from the long arm of the law.
The court ordered that Chief Ifediba Samson Umejidike should be apprehended and committed to Enugu Custodial Centre (prison) till he returns the diverted STIHL products back to the court or pay Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG and C. Woermann Nig. Ltd the sum of ₦30,948,099.95.
The judge also adjourned the substantive suit to March 5, 2020 for mention.
Commenting on the ruling, the Nigerian counsel to both Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG and C. Woermann Nig. Ltd, Amala Umeike, Esq., a partner at the law firm of Brickfield LP, expressed gratitude to both the judge and the Nigerian judiciary at large for maintaining its integrity and ensuring that Nigeria is seen as a country guided by the rule of law, where delinquents are not shielded from justice.
Umeike stated that Umejidike is currently being hunted by authorities and anybody having useful information should contact the nearest police station or office of the State Security Services. A reward of ₦1,000,000 has been offered for any useful information leading to the successful arrest of Chief Ifediba Samson Umejidike.
Also in his reaction, the foreign instructing counsel for Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG and C. Woermann Nig. Ltd, Mr Marius Schneider of the Mauritius-based IPvocate Africa Legal Advisers Ltd, expressed satisfaction with the Nigerian judiciary, stating that the ruling has re-established the faith of foreign businesses and investors in the Nigerian judiciary and Nigeria at large.