June 21, 2024

Alleged N17bn debt: Afex challenges court’s jurisdiction


THE planned arraignment of Afex Commodity Exchange and some of its principal officers before a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, over alleged contempt of court, failed, yesterday, as the alleged contemnors challenged the jurisdiction of the court to proceed on the matter.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke had on May 31, 2024, granted a motion ex parte in suit FHC/L/CS/911/2024, and cited AFEX and its principal officers for contempt of court following their alleged disobedience to a court order authorising a new generation bank to take over the funds and assets belonging to Afex Commodities Exchange following its alleged inability to pay N17.808billion loan facilities granted by the bank.

At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, Ade Adedeji, SAN, appeared for the plaintiff, while Prof. Wale Olawoyin, SAN, led a team of lawyers for the defendants.

Addressing the court, Prof. Olawoyin informed the court of a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the contempt proceedings initiated against the Afex Commodity Exchange and it’s Directors for alleged non-compliance with the ex parte interim order of injunction dated May 27, 2024.

He submitted that when the jurisdiction of the court is being challenged parties in alleged contempt need not be physically present in court until the issue of jurisdiction is resolved by the court.

However, in his reply, the plaintiff’s counsel, Ade Adedeji argued that contempt proceedings are quasi-criminal, hence all the alleged contemnors must be physically present in court.

He submitted that until the people in contempt appear in court, they cannot be heard through their lawyer.