Chairman of Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko CFR, has affirmed his respect for the judiciary, the rule of law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Otudeko stated this when he appeared this Thursday before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division to give evidence in the suit instituted by Honeywell against Ecobank (Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1219/2015).
Addressing the court, Otudeko said after his counsel, Bode Olanipekun, informed him of the invitation from the court, he had to cut short his trip to ensure he honoured the invitation. “This is a first time experience for me, but I am happy to be here as a mark of respect for the courts and my belief in the Judiciary.” Otudeko said.
But, it was observed that instead of opening its defence as expected, Ecobank failed to proceed with its defence. It was observed that instead of opening his case through examination in chief, Counsel to Ecobank, O.A. Divine attempted to overturn the court procedure by attempting to commence his defence by cross-examining Dr. Oba Otudeko.
Counsel to Honeywell, Bode Olanipekun, however raised an objection saying that Ecobank’s disregard for the procedures of the Federal High Court was wrong as a Witness Statement on oath sworn to by Dr. Otudeko was already before the court. This was simply supposed to have been adopted in commencing its defence.
After listening to counsel for both parties, Justice Idris ruled that cases are not opened through cross-examination but rather through examination in chief. Justice Idris, quoted case law to the effect that “counsel’s unpreparedness cannot be tolerated or used as an excuse to delay proceedings”. Consequent to this, the Court directed that Ecobank’s counsel should proceed with the examination in chief. Counsel to Ecobank, O.A. Divine, however informed the court that he had no further questions for the witness he had requested the court to invite.
Thereafter, counsel to Honeywell, Olanipekun, sought to proceed with the cross examination of the witness, Dr. Oba Otudeko. However, Ecobank’s counsel objected to the cross examination by Bode Olanipekun on the grounds that even though the witness statement was sworn to by the witness, the fact stated therein was not Ecobank’s narrative. Honeywell’s counsel however said that argument was laughable, as according to him, the only statement on oath before the court was the one filed by Dr. Oba Otudeko.
Following the hearing of the arguments from both counsels, his Honour, Justice Idris adjourned the matter for ruling on Wednesday 14th February 2018.