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N3.5bn debt: S’Court to rule in bank, flour mills’ case

By Innocent Anaba

lagos—Ecobank  Nigeria Limited has urged the Supreme Court to set aside a Court of Appeal verdict on its winding-up petition against Honeywell Flour Mills Plc over an alleged 3.5billion debt.

Trial Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, had last December 4, froze Honeywell’s accounts following an application by Ecobank’s counsel,  Mr Kunle Ogunba, SAN.

The lower court later varied the order by allowing Honeywell to withdraw N15million per week pending hearing of the suit, which Honeywell appealed against.

The Court of Appeal in its judgment, however, ruled in Honeywell’s favour and discharged the restraining order.

The appellate court  in the judgment delivered by Justice Abimbola Obaseki, set aside Justice Yunusa’s order on the ground of abuse of Order 4 of winding up rules.

But Ecobank has also urged the Court of Appeal to retrain Honeywell from taking advantage of the order discharging the interim/varied order, pending the determination of the case by the Supreme Court.

The bank said the interim order was made to preserve Honeywell’s funds in some banks, namely Zenith, Access, Citibank, Stand Chartered, Wema, Guarantee Trust, Fidelity and Ecobank until the case was determined.

According to the bank, “There is an urgent need to preserve the res (subject-matter) of the appeal to avoid foisting a situation of helplessness on the Supreme Court, a superior court of record.”

The bank is further urging the Supreme Court to set aside the entire judgment/decision of the Court of Appeal on the ground that the appellate court erred in law in setting aside the ex-parte orders made by Justice Yunusa.

But the bank is urging the Supreme Court to hold that the Winding-up Rules did not outlaw the issuance of ex-parte orders, among other ground.

Besides, it said the Winding-up Rules did not provide for ex-parte orders, adding that it was provided for in the court’s Civil Procedure Rules.

“The Winding-Up Rules is a subsidiary legislation and not elevated to the rank of a statute. Rule 4 of the Winding Up Rules only provided for applications inter-parties and thus created a lacuna as it relates to ex-parte applications which can only be filled by the Civil Procedure Rules of the court,” the bank said.

Ecobank also appealed against the dismissal of its appeal challenging the jurisdiction of Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in establishing a customer banker’s relationship in a related case.

The Court of Appeal had held that there was a banker-customer relationship between the parties.

Bur the bank is praying the Supreme Court to hold that the Court of Appeal occasioned a gross miscarriage of justice by allowing the respondents the benefits of an “in-principle” agreement they were never party to.

 

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