By Edu Abade
Ecobank Nigeria Limited has lodged an appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court, Lagos, delivered by Justice M. Liman, in the N72 billion lawsuit brought against the bank by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.
A spokesperson for the bank maintained that the judgment claim will remain an exercise in futility as the financial institution would diligently pursue the appeal with the aim of overturning the judgment of the Federal High Court.
Additionally, Ecobank remains committed to recovering the debts owed by Honeywell, stressing that the return of depositors’ funds is crucial for ensuring the continued support and growth of local businesses by the bank.
In its Notice of Appeal dated July 19, 2023, filed on the same date, Ecobank seeks to overturn the judgment delivered on July 18, 2023. The bank is also seeking an order from the Court of Appeal to uphold its Notice of Preliminary Objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to preside over the matter.
Alternatively, Ecobank requests the Court of Appeal to dismiss Honeywell’s claim at the lower court, asserting that the evidence presented did not support the claim.
Alongside the Notice of Appeal, Ecobank filed a Motion on Notice to stay the execution of the lower court’s judgment and to prevent Honeywell or any party acting on their behalf from taking advantage of the ruling pending the appeal hearing.
The bank also seeks to restrain the Deputy Sheriff of the Federal High Court, bailiffs, and any other involved parties from enforcing the judgment.
The Bank filed several grounds of appeal, including, challenging the court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter seeing that the court lacked the power to entertain a claim for damages based on an undertaking made by the Bank despite the judgment of the Supreme Court, which confirmed Honeywell’s indebtedness to the bank and directed Honeywell to settle its obligations. Ecobank maintains that this judgment by the Supreme Court nullifies the foundation of Honeywell’s current suit.
In its third Ground of Appeal, Ecobank contends that the judgment was delivered outside the constitutionally prescribed period of 90 days, resulting in a miscarriage of justice against the bank.
The trial concluded on March 9, 2021 and written addresses were adopted on March 16, 2022, while the judgment was delivered on July 18, 2023, over two years after its conclusion and as such the bank argues that the prolonged delay affected the court’s impression of the trial, leading to a verdict that does not align with the weight of evidence presented.