Wema Bank’s Managing Director, Ademola Adebise, and five other top officials of the bank are at risk of being slammed with committal orders for court disobedience, except they did obey Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke’s order which required them to appear in court today.
The Federal High Court Judge gave the order last week, demanding the defendants’ presence at court on Monday. This is in relation to a contempt suit that was earlier filed against them by the management of Heritage Bank Plc.
Heritage Bank Plc had also filed similar garnishee suits against the Ondo State Government and the state’s Attorney-General, as well as a separate suit against Idanre Local Government Universal Basic Education Authority in Ondo State.
Here’s what had happened: Nairametrics understands that Heritage Bank some time ago won a court case against the Ondo State Government and the state’s Attorney General. This was to the tune of N1 billion. The state paid the sum of N600 million to the bank, remaining N400 million.
In the same vein, Heritage Bank also obtained a court win against Idanre Local Government Universal Education Authority to the tune of N405.4 million.
At this point, Wema Bank, with whom the Ondo State Government had an account, deposed an affidavit saying that the Ondo State Government had up to N745 million in its account. The court later required Wema Bank to pay the money to Heritage Bank, according to reporting by The Nation.
Meanwhile, the affidavit, which was deposed by Wema Bank, had been attached to an order of nisi that Heritage Bank had obtained in an effort to ensure that both parties (I.e. the Ondo Government and Heritage Bank) comply with the court order.
Note that an order of nisi is a court order that comes into force at a future date, particularly when a condition is not met. In other words, an order of nisi works in such a way that if a condition in a ruling is unmet, the ruling becomes a decree absolute and binding. In the case of Wema Bank, there was a principle judgment sum of N134 million which was meant to become absolute if the bank failed to remit the money in its custody to Heritage Bank.
By December 2019, the order of nisi against Wema bank became absolute after the bank failed to remit the money. According to Heritage Bank, Wema Bank failed to remit the money despite repeated demands by its attorney.
Wema Bank tried to explain, saying that it could not comply with the court injunction because there was a notice of appeal and motion of stay of execution which had been filed by the Ondo State Government at the court of appeal.
Apparently, this explanation fell on deaf ears because Heritage Bank made the court’s Registrar issue Form 48 to Heritage Bank. The form served the purpose of notifying Wema Bank of the consequence of its disobedience of court – which is that it will become liable to pay the sum of N134 million.
Interestingly, this order was still not obeyed by Wema Bank, thereby resulting in a further issuance of Form 49, which demanded that Wema Bank’s top executives should appear in court and defend contempt charges brought against them or risk going to prison. In the meantime, counsel to Wema Bank had filed a petition seeking a stay of execution pending an appeal.
On February 14th, the Justice ruled that Wema Bank’s MD, the company’s Chairman, Babatunde Kasali, and the Deputy Managing Director, Moruf Oseni must appear in court or risking jail terms. Others who were expected to appear before the Justice are Wole Akinleye, Folake Sanu, and Johnson Lebile who hold Executive Director and Company Secretary positions at the company.
It is unclear at the point of filing this report whether these individuals did comply by appearing in court today or not.