Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu of Onitsha High Court No. I has adjourned further hearing till Wednesday, September 26, this year in a N56,174,106 civil suit instituted against
A Calabar, Cross River state based poultry feeds producers, Eastern Premier Feed Mills Limited (Top Feeds), by an Onitsha-based poultry farmer and poultry feeds distributor, Chidozie Obeleagu.
In her ruling shortly after hearing from Fidelis Obi Onyebueke, counsel to the defendant, Top Feeds and Kenneth Ogbue who held brief for Ike Odionu Esq., counsel to the plaintiff, Obeleagu, Justice Onwuamaegbu ordered the defendant to pay N10,000 cost to the plaintiff for filing their processes late in court.
She also frowned that the defendants were yet to pay the first N10,000 cost to the plaintiff as ordered by the court during the second hearing date of the matter, adding that if she had known that the first cost had not yet been paid, she would not have heard the matter for the second time.
Both the first N10,000 cost and the second one were prompted by oral applications made before the court by the plaintiff counsel asking the court to award the costs in his favour against the defendants for negligence and failing to file their briefs on time, adding that the cost would make them to sit up.
However, during the first hearing date, the defence counsel, Onyebueke had raised an objection to the oral application for costs on the ground that he had already filed a motion on notice for the dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction, adding that what he is praying the court to do was to grant him an extension of time, to enable him file his statement of defence and tidy up all the loose ends.
Also on the second hearing date, Onyebueke informed the court that he had already filed his statement of defence and would be ready to go on with the case, even as he would have preferred a short adjournment to enable him get fully prepared to defend his case.
In the suit, the plaintiff is asking the court to order the defendants to pay him a total sum of N56,174,106 for breach of contract and the cost of bags of poisonous feeds which the defendants produced and supplied to him in 2014 and which allegedly killed all his poultry birds in his poultry farm and also killed poultry birds in his customers’ poultry farms.
In his statement of claim, the plaintiff, trading under the names and styles of Obeleagu Holdings and Obeleagu Agro Allied Enterprises, also prayed the court for a declaration that the defendants have breached his contract with him by supplying him a poisonous feeds that killed all his birds in the poultry farm.
The plaintiff stated that the amount covered the cost of all the birds, which the feeds killed after eating, and general/exemplary damages for breach of contract/warranty.
He contended that out of this amount, N50 million is for general/exemplary damages for breach of contract/warranty, while the rest are for litigation and total monetary loss of the birds in his poultry farm, including 1,600 broilers of six weeks old with a market price of N1,500 each and 678 broilers of 11 weeks old with a market price of N2,000 each.
The plaintiff stated that when the birds started dying, he quickly sent samples of the poultry feeds for laboratory analysis to Animal Care Technical Services Division (Poultry Disease Diagnosis and Aquaculture Lab), Asaba, Delta state which after the analysis, confirmed the products as being unpalatable for poultry use and consumption by broilers.
He mentioned some of his customers which he supplied the feeds with the same disastrous results as George from Umueri who lost 172 broilers of seven weeks old, Mrs. Ebele Ojukwu lost 124 broilers, Mrs. Ebele from Ogidi lost 109 broilers, Callista Igboka lost 327 broilers, Virginia Igwe lost 131 broilers, Mrs. Okwudinka lost 59, Mrs. Onyeje lost 129, Caroline O. lost 56, Mrs. Mmadukolu lost 132, and Mrs. Rose Ezeh lost 37.
He lamented that ever since then, they have been constantly on his neck to compensate them for the losses and at the same time stopped buying feeds and other poultry products from him.