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Adesola Adeduntan Led First Bank in N200 Million Judgement Debt Scandal…

As Adesola Adeduntan led First Bank of Nigeria Limited fights harder to redeem her corporate image from several fronts, more negative attention is building up against her…

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As Adesola Adeduntan led First Bank of Nigeria Limited fights harder to redeem her corporate image from several fronts, more negative attention is building up against her.

Below is yet another unhealthy story against the brand, interrogating her corporate integrity.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria’s judgment in the case: SC.841/2016: Oboh vs. Nigeria Football League Ltd, (2) League Management Company Ltd and (3) First Bank of Nigeria Plc. described Nigeria’s most successful tier-1 bank as a disreputable bank – “dubious and dodgy”.

In its judgment of 28 January 2022, the apex court found the Adesola Adeduntan led First Bank of Nigeria Ltd liable to pay the sum of ₦232,915,644.00 (Two Hundred and Thirty-Two Million, Nine Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-Four Naira Only) as judgment debt in their capacity as garnishee bank. The apex court entered a garnishee order absolute against the bank (as 2nd Garnishee) jointly and severally with League Management Company Ltd as 1st Garnishee.

Garnishee proceedings may be regarded as a special procedure for enforcing monetary judgment by recovering the judgment debt from a third party who is found to be in possession of the account and money of the judgment debtor and/or its successor.

In this particular case, the judgment creditor had obtained a monetary judgment against Nigeria Football League Ltd (NFL) before he commenced garnishee proceedings against the successor-in-title to NFL – League Management Company Ltd (LMC) and their bankers, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd.

This is what the Supreme Court said at page 3 of the leading judgment: “The Appellants, as judgment creditors, in exercise of their rights and powers under section 287(3) of the Constitution, providing inter alia, that the decision of a High Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons and the court itself, proceeded by way of garnishee proceedings at the trial High Court to enforce the judgment dated 9th July 2013.

They proceeded against League Management Company Limited and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, respectively the 2nd and 3rd Respondents in this appeal, as Garnishees. On 18th July, 2013 the trial High Court (G.N. Onyabo, J) granted the garnishee order nisi against the garnishees attaching the sum owing in satisfaction of the judgment entered on 9th July, 2013 in favour of the judgment creditors. G.N. Onyeabo, J further ordered that the garnishees shall enter appearances within fourteen (14) days and shall file an affidavit to show cause why the order nisi should not be made absolute, attaching as exhibits – copies of the Statement of Account of the Judgment Debtor held by them…”.

Obviously, the Supreme Court had carefully reviewed the role played by First Bank of Nigeria in failing to provide a comprehensive Statement of Account of League Management Company Ltd (1st Garnishee) as ordered by the Lagos High Court. Was the bank entitled to not providing the bank statements at the material time or was such default deliberate for some improper purpose in an attempt to frustrate the course of justice?

Unimpressed by the antics of the bank in a matter involving strict compliance with a court order, the Supreme Court characterized the bank as “consistently dubious and dodgy”. This is how the Court said it on pages 21 – 22 of the said judgment: “In making the order nisi the trial court exercises its undoubted judicial discretion – judicially and judiciously.

When the trial court (per Onyeabo, J) made the garnishee order nisi upon the affidavit (Form 25) of Oyetuga Olugbenga Joseph (on behalf of the judgment creditor) filed on 16th July, 2013 I should take it, on the presumption of regularity (section 168(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011), that the trial court (Onyeabo, J) made the order nisi having been satisfied by the averments that the amounts of the debts due and owing or accruing for the 1st Garnishee to the judgment debtor are lodged in bank accounts, one of which is with the 2nd Garnishee and that the 2nd Garnishee, First Bank Plc of No. 35 Marina Lagos State are bankers to the 1st Garnishee who maintains Account No. 2023185845 at 2nd Garnishee’s Central Business District Abuja branch where the title sponsorship fees to the tune of over N500,000,000.00 accruing to the judgment Debtor in respect of the 2012/2013 Nigeria Premier Football League season – was deposited and further that the said account is still in credit to the tune of about N160,000,000.00.

On 18th July 2013 Onyeabo, J made Order Nisi against both garnishees attaching the sum in satisfaction of the judgment entered on 9th July 2013 in favour of the judgment creditor. The 2nd Garnishee, the 3rd Respondent, had been consistently dubious and dodgy on the fact averred, and accepted by Onyeabo, J that at the time the order nisi was made it had in favour of the 1st Garnishee ₦500,000,000 lodged with it.”

The 10-year-old case ended in favour of the judgment creditor on the 28th January 2022, but the bank has maintained a posture of delinquency in not settling the judgment debt. We understand that First Bank returned to the Lagos High Court to seek for an interpretation of the judgment of the Supreme Court – a request the High Court declined. Then, it has gone on appeal and brought an application for purported stay of execution of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the lower court! It is left for lawyers and judges to determine whether such court processes qualify as frivolous – that is, a process filed merely to hinder a judgment creditor from recovering the judgment debt or to force him to settle for less.

Who can fault the Supreme Court in this case? In 1897, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., presented a definition of law that says: The prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, and, nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by the law”. Any corporate citizen worth its salt may not want to carry a testimonial that reads: ‘Consistently Dubious and Dodgy’.

Enforcement of court judgments and orders is the last lap of the rule of law and at the heart of the quest for justice. Accordingly, Section 287 of the Constitution provides:
“(1). The decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court.

“(2). The decisions of the Court of Appeal shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Court of Appeal.

“(3). The decisions of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court and of all other courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court and those other courts, respectively.”

 

Source: ENigeria Newspaper

 

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