The Supreme Court of Nigeria has thrown out three different appeals filed by Ecobank Nigeria Limited against Honeywell Flour Mills Plc for lack of merit.
In an unanimous decision by the judges, the apex court held that Ecobank’s appeals were frivolous and thus, should be dismissed.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, issued rulings against Ecobank which the bank thereafter appealed at the Supreme Court.
In response to the rulings, the commercial bank made three appeals to the apex court for review.
The appeals read:
In the first suit number SC/402/2016, Ecobank had appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal discharging the ex parte injunction/asset freezing orders which it had obtained against Honeywell.
In the second suit number SC/406/2016, Ecobank had also appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal which had affirmed the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the suit filed by Honeywell Companies. The court of appeal had also ordered accelerated hearing of the suit at the Federal High Court and Ecobank also challenged this ruling at the Supreme Court.
Finally, in the suit number SC/407/2016, Ecobank appealed the ruling of the Court of Appeal, striking out, rather than dismissing, the contempt proceedings filed by Honeywell.
For almost three years now, there has been an ongoing legal battle between Ecobank and Honeywell over an unpaid debt of N5.5 billion by the latter. While Ecobank is claiming Honeywell is indebted to it to the tune of the aforementioned money, out of which N3.5 billion had been paid, Honeywell claimed to have paid the debt in full.
In the wake of the legal tussle, Dr Oba Otudeko, Honeywell Group chairman, had told a Court of Appeal that the sum was owed by his individual companies, which include -Anchorage Leisures Limited, Siloam Limited and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.
Otudeko maintained that his companies had paid N3.5 billion as at December 12, 2013 as the full and final payment for the N5.5 billion debt as agreed by the parties at a July 22, 2013 meeting.
The bank has five suits against Honeywell and its chairman – two before justice Babs Kuewunmi (who took over from Okon Abang); three before Justice Dagat (who took over from Justice Mohammed Yunusa).
After Ecobank wrote the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta to re-assign the case to another judge, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos refused to disqualify himself from adjudicating the N5.5 billion debt case between Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, its sister companies and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, a Federal High Court stayed further proceedings of the suit filed by Ecobank. The decision to suspend the proceeds, according to trial judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa, was to avoid the creation of a judicial anarchy.