Ohanaeze Hails Supreme Court Ruling on GTB, Innoson Legal Tussle

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…As company explains verdict

By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday in Enugu applauded the judgement of the Supreme Court on the Innoson Group of Companies Vs GT Bank case last Thursday.

The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said by the judgment, the Supreme Court refused to be used in an ethnic warfare to thwart Innoson of a judicial victory at the Court of Appeal.

However, in a statement by Ohanaeze president general Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Attamah, Nwodo stated that the judgment of the Supreme Court has shown that the judiciary remains the last bastion of hope for the common man, adding that it was victory for democracy and an indication that there was still hope for the country.

This came as the Innoson Group of Companies explained the details of last Thursday’s apex court ruling on its protracted legal tussle with GT Bank, explaining that there has been a lot of misrepresentations on the court verdict.

The company in a statement by Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Cornelius Osigwe, which was made available to THISDAY in Enugu, noted that the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal had on December 9, 2014, ordered the bank to pay within 14 days, a judgement debt of N6 billion to the Deputy Registrar of the court who will in turn pay same into an interest yielding account pending the determination of the bank’s appeal.

However, GT Bank not satisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeal, headed to the Supreme Court and filed a motion for stay of the execution of the order.

According to him in the statement, “The public should also note that the judgment debt of N6 billion arose as a result of excess and unlawful charges which GT Bank took from Innoson’s account domiciled with it.

“On June 7, 2018, the Supreme Court struck out the application filed by GT Bank on the stay of execution of the order of Court of Appeal. The N6 billion judgment debt as at June 7, 2018, was over N14 billion.

“Therefore, as a result of the struck out application, the Court of Appeal order that GT Bank should pay the judgment debt to the Deputy Chief Register of the court within 14 days from the date of ruling and which sum of money the Deputy Chief Register shall pay into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank which will take effect immediately.

“We are therefore right to state: that GT Bank shall Pay Innoson’s N14 billion judgment debt into an interest yielding account within 14 days.

“Furthermore, we are aware of the fact that GT Bank in an affidavit sworn on December 12, 2014, at the Court of Appeal Enugu Division after the court ordered it to pay the judgment debt into an interest yielding account, stated in paragraphs 5,6,7 that: ‘The compliance by the appellant (GT Bank) with this order of this court of December 9, 2014, will adversely affect the smooth banking operation…and deplete the depositors funds in the custody of the appellant (GTB) as the sum ordered to be paid will necessarily have to be paid from the depositors funds.

“That the order contained in the decision of this court appealed against will impact negatively on the operation of the banking business of the appellant. Compliance with the order will have adverse effect of depleting the trading funds of the appellant with the resultant effect of high probability of attracting the sanctions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The banking operation of the appellant will be adversely affected and its capital base eroded.

“Therefore, GTB is advised within 14 days to obey the order of the Court of Appeal and pay the judgment debt to the Deputy Chief Register of the court within 14 days from the date of the Supreme Court decision striking out its application and which sum of money the Deputy Chief Register shall pay into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank; or it should take heed of the advice given to it at the Supreme Court to go and negotiate with Innoson. For emphasis, the judgment debt arising from the excess and unlawful charges which GT Bank took from Innoson’s account is as at today over N14 billon.”

Nwodo said it was obvious that some vested interests were colluding with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to deny Innoson of his rights and to tarnish his well-earned reputation as a foremost manufacturer and investor in the country. He ascribed Innoson’s travails to the systematic harassment and intimidation of Igbo people in the country due to ethnicity.