Ecobank, yesterday, Friday failed in its bid to stop the contempt proceeding instituted against the bank by Honeywell Group. In his ruling, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos rejected Ecobank’s plea for stay of ruling in the contempt charge. This follows an earlier ruling by Justice Idris on December 11, 2015 that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the contempt proceedings instituted by Honeywell.
When the matter was called up on Friday, January 15, 2016, counsel to Ecobank, Kunle Ogunba (SAN), informed the court that they had filed an affidavit dated 13th January, 2016 pointing to the fact that two Notices of Appeal are pending before the court of Appeal against the decisions of the court which were delivered on 11th December, 2015.
According to Ogunba, the appeal is against the decisions of the court dismissing Ecobank’s objection on grounds of jurisdiction and thereby assuming jurisdiction as well as adjourning to the 15th of January 2016 for the ruling on contempt. He stated that the records of appeal have been transmitted to the appellate court. Ogunba also apologized for serving Honeywell the affidavit in court in the morning of January 15, 2016.
Counsel to Honeywell, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) opposed the application to stay the ruling on the basis that the date for ruling was fixed before Ecobank filed its appeal. Furthermore, the affidavit deposing to the Notices of Appeal was only served on Honeywell at the court that morning.
In response to the prayers by Ecobank’s Counsel, Justice Idris ruled that the affidavit filed by Ecobank dated 13 January, 2016 with the aim of stopping the court’s ruling was just served on Honeywell in the morning shortly before the court sitting and that Honeywell ought to be given time to respond accordingly. He therefore decided that the court would proceed with its ruling.
In his ruling, Justice Idris issued a strong warning that the order of the court, directing all parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum still subsists. According to Justice Idris, any party in breach of the order should retrace its steps or risk invoking the punitive power of the court.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to 26th February for the hearing of the substantive suit.