By Edu Abade
Ecobank Nigeria Limited has disclosed that it will appeal a judgment by the Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice Liman, which delivered a judgment in favour of Honeywell Flour against the bank and ordered it to pay N72 billion to the company.
The bank described the judgment as ‘perverse’ and as such it could not stand the test of time, insisting that it would vigorously challenge the same, and remain confident that the judgment will be reversed at the Supreme Court.
Sources from the bank stated that the instant suit was an action filed in 2018 for the enforcement of the Bank’s Undertaking as to Damages, filed in pursuance of its Winding Up Petition and the Ex-Parte Orders, which were granted in favour of the bank.
“We challenged the action through a Notice of Preliminary Objection dated October 16, 2018 whereby we challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, as (among other reasons), the action did not fall within the provisions of Section 251 (d) of the Constitution, being that the subject matter of the suit was for the Claim of Damages arising out of an Ex-Parte Order, as opposed to a Banker-Customer relationship.
“Trial was concluded in this matter since March 9, 2021 and the parties adopted their final written addresses alongside our Notice of Preliminary objection on the 16th March, 2022, the Court then adjourned the matter to May 27, 2022 for judgment. While the court failed to deliver judgment on the said date, the registrar of the court promised to inform counsel whenever the judgment was ready.”
“Following the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of the bank in Suit No. SC/CV/210/2021, which was delivered on January 27, 2023, the bank further filed a motion on notice dated March 9, 2023 to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the same has become academic as a result of the judgment entered in favour of Ecobank wherein the Supreme Court held that Honeywell remained indebted to the bank.
The Court heard the motion dated March 9, 2023 and adjourned to June 23, 2023 for ruling on our two applications and also for delivery of judgment. It consequently delivered the said ruling on July 18, 2023 (yesterday) through a virtual proceeding at 4:00pm. In its Judgment, the Court dismissed the two applications we filed, holding that it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit and that the suit had not become academic.”
According to the bank, in reaching its judgment, the Court, among others submissions, ignored or refused to show rulings that the Ex-Parte Orders were discharged on points of law and not that it was frivolously obtained by the Bank; that the Ex-Parte Order lasted for less than two weeks, contrary to the Claim of Honeywell which was said to have covered the period of three years.
It added that the documents presented by Honeywell particularly the annual returns did not show the alleged damage, hence same was indeed non-existent; that documents from various other banks that were served with the ex-parte order showed that the Honeywell companies were indeed highly indebted to them, hence there was no way the Ex-Parte Orders would have frozen funds in the said banks.
“More importantly, the Court refused all the objections regarding the documents maliciously prepared by Honeywell for the sole purpose of instituting the suit and claiming unjustifiable sums from the bank,” it further stated.
The bank, therefore, restated that as a member of the Ecobank Group, the Pan-African Bank, which is fully committed to transparency in all the countries where it operates and abide by the laws and regulations, believes that the matter should be conclusively determined in line with the applicable judicial process.