By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Chairman/Managing Director of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Chief Innocent Chukwuma, has headed for the Supreme Court Monday to challenge last Friday’s ruling of the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal, which allowed the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) to amend its Notice of Appeal in their lingering legal dispute.
The appellate court had ruled that GTB can be heard in the matter despite its earlier ruling on December 9, 2014 that the bank cannot be heard in any appeal whatsoever until it complies with its ruling.
The Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, had on December 9, 2014 ordered that GTB cannot be heard in any appeal until the appellant (GTB) pay the sum of N5,936,126,219.01k to the Deputy Chief Register of the court within 14 days from the date of ruling and which the Deputy Chief Register shall pay same into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank other than Diamond Bank or Mainstreet Bank Plc pending the determination of the appeal.
Fridayâ€™s decision at the Court of Appeal follows a motion by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to GTB on January 25, 2015, seeking to amend its notice of appeal.
The motion was however opposed by the counsel to Innoson, Prof. McCarthy Mbadugha, on the grounds that GTB would not be heard until it complies with the courtâ€™s order of December 9, 2014 that it pays the judgment debt which now stands at over N14 billion to the Deputy Chief Register of the court which will pay same into an interest yielding account in a reputable bank, GTBâ€™s motion to stay the execution of the order at the Supreme Court having been struck out on June 7, 2018; and that the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal anymore, GTB appeal to Supreme court having been entered.
Mbadugha equally urged the court to make an order that the appellant/contemnor (GTBank) will not be heard in the appeal and in any application whatsoever until it purges itself of the contempt by obeying the courtâ€™s order of December 9, 2014 by paying the judgment debt of N5,936,126,219.01k (which as at today is over N14 billion) with the accrued interest thereon at 22 per cent from December 9, 2014 till the date of compliance with the said order to the Deputy Chief Register of the court.
Mbadugha further argued that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal given that the appellantâ€™s appeal to the Supreme Court against the said Court of Appeal order made on December 9, 2014 has been transmitted/entered into the Supreme Court and by reason of Order 8, Rule 11 of the Supreme Court rules 1985 (as amended), the Court of Appeal lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal before it and any application in the appeal.
Thus, Prof. Mbadugha urged the Court of Appeal to defer to the Supreme Court and transmit all the pending application to the Supreme Court.
But reacting to the ruling in a statement by his spokesman, Cornel Osigwe, the automobile manufacturer asked his counsel, Mbadugha, to immediately appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal granting the appellant leave to amend its notice of appeal despite its non-compliance with the court’s earlier order that unless it pays the judgment debt into an interest yielding account, its appeal cannot be determined.
Chief Chukwuma insisted that hearing GTB appeal at the Court of Appeal Enugu Division without GTB paying the N14 billion judgment debt to the court will render the courtâ€™s initial ruling that GTB pays the judgment debt to the court nugatory and equally renders GTBâ€™s appeal at the Supreme Court against the ruling an academic exercise.