Ecobank Nigeria Limited says it will appeal a judgement by the Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Hon. Justice Liman, which delivered a judgment in favour of Honeywell Flour against the bank and ordered it to pay the sum of N72 billion. The bank said it believe that the judgment is perverse and cannot stand the test of time. It also noted that it would vigorously challenge same, and remain confident that it can reverse this judgment at the higher courts.
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 which was 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 16th October, 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 9th March, 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 27th May, 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 judgement was ready”.
“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bank’s favour, in Suit No. SC/CV/210/2021 which was delivered on 27th January 2023, the bank further filed a Motion on notice dated 9th March, 2023 to dismiss the Suit on the grounds that 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 motion dated 9th March, 2023 and adjourned to 23th June, 2023 for ruling on our two applications and also for delivery of judgment. The Court consequently delivered the said ruling/judgment today July 18 via a virtual proceeding at about 4pm. In its Judgment, the Court dismissed the two applications we filed, holding that it has jurisdiction to entertain the suit and also that the suit had not become academic”.
According to the bank, In reaching its judgment, the Court ignored/refused (among others): Submissions showing 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 2 weeks, contrary to the Claim of Honeywell which was said to have covered the period of three years; 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 who 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; and 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.
The bank reiterated that it is a member of the Ecobank Group, the Pan-African Bank which is proudly and fully committed to transparency in all the countries where it operates, and abide by laws and regulations. It believes that this matter should be conclusively determined in line with the applicable judicial process.