Symbol of justice
THISDAY SPECIAL RELEASE
Davidson Iriekpen and Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, presided over by Justice O. E. Abang, Monday restrained Access Bank Plc and Coscharis Motors Limited, who were absent when the order was given, from interfering with the properties of Capital Oil and Gas Ltd, pending the determination of a substantive suit before the court.
Access Bank Plc and Coscharis Motors Limited are defendants in a suit instituted by Capital Oil and Gas Limited and its Managing Director, Mr. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, before the court challenging the veracity of the defendants’ claims in respect of an alleged loan facility, the terms of which they claim have been breached by the plaintiffs.
When the matter came up for hearing last Friday before Justice Abang, the respondents were neither in court, nor represented by their counsel notwithstanding that they had been served with the court processes.
Counsel to the applicants, R. A. Lawal Rabana (SAN), informed the court that he was in court to move the application, dated October 30, 2012, and which was duly served on the defendants.
Rabana stated that the writ of summons was served on the defendants much earlier with the application and motion. The plaintiffs’ counsel also informed the court that the hearing notice of the motion was equally served on the first and second defendants on the 6th and 9th of November respectively.
The court noted that the defendants had seven days under the rules of the court to respond to the court processes served on them, whether positively or otherwise, and that by the records in the court’s file, the seven days had elapsed.
After confirming that the defendants were properly and duly served the originating court processes in respect of the application, including the hearing notices, the court satisfied itself that the respondents were fully aware of the sitting of the court and were not in court and did not send a lawyer or a letter to give reasons for their absence.
Capital Oil’s counsel therefore urged the court to allow him to move his application, which he termed “very urgent”. He informed the court that the respondents were moving at alarming speed to deal with and destroy the assets, properties and business interests of the applicants, including third party assets and businesses, which have dealings with the applicants.
Rabana also told the court that the respondents had arrested two ships carrying the goods and consignments belonging to the applicants. He said one of the ships was arrested in South Africa, while the other one was arrested in Nigeria.
The lawyer also informed the court that the respondents were wreaking great havoc on the business interests of the applicants.
The respondents, he said, filed an action at an English court, which they now use as a basis to go after the assets of the applicants worldwide.
Rabana therefore prayed the court to give a preservative order; otherwise, by the time they come back to the court, there will be nothing left for the defendant because the respondents would have destroyed the res (thing(s) as well as immovable or real property).
After listening to the applicants’ counsel, the court confirmed from the registry that the respondents were duly and properly served with the originating processes of the case, the court then allowed the applicants’ counsel to move the motion, and the court reserved ruling for Monday.
Giving its ruling yesterday, the court looked at the unchallenged depositions of the applicants’ counsel alongside the supporting affidavits and noted that it was the duty of the courts to protect the rules of court.
The judge therefore granted the interlocutory order restraining the defendants, their agents, privies and or servants or any other body acting on the instructions of the defendants from interfering with the properties and businesses of the applicants, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The court also ordered the applicants to file an indemnity within 48 hours to indemnify the court in the event that the court ought not to have made this order or the order was found to be frivolous.
The matter was fixed for further hearing on January 21, 2013 and the court ordered that hearing notice be issued to the defendants.
The plaintiffs had in the Motion on Notice sought for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants/respondents, their agents, privies or any other person(s) acting for or claiming through them or acting on their behalf from interfering with the applicants’ properties and business interest, pending the final determination of the suit.