Court Records Reveal Judge Didn’t Accuse Zenith Bank of Bribing Judges, Lawyers

Contrary to several online media publications last week, the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment of Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe, has revealed that there was nowhere in the judgment that the judge accused Zenith Bank Plc of bribing judges and lawyers for 11 years in order to pervert the course of justice.
Justice Abike-Fadipe, on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, while delivering judgment reported to have made serious and weighty allegations against the bank.

The suit marked LD/ADR/186/2014 was between Real Integrated and Hospitality Limited as claimants while, Zenith Bank Plc and State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) as first and second defendants respectively.
In one of the publications, the judge was quoted as saying, “My recommendation is that Zenith Bank is a fraud and people must be very careful in their dealings with the bank.”

Some of the other quotes read: “Zenith Bank bribed the lawyers in the matter. This they have done for 11 years. So many lawyers and judges have been bribed in this matter just perverting justice.

“What is more embarrassing, the current governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele was the one who came to navigate and begged for the deposit. He has not been able to do anything to Zenith Bank because he was the managing director of the bank at the time of this transaction.”

But after a careful study of the court’s record there was nothing to prove that the judge made the said allegations.
Although, it could be seen that the judge made a scathing criticism of the bank, the court however did not accuse the bank of bribing judges and lawyers for 11 years in its alleged bid to rob the plaintiff of justice as reported by the online news mediums.

It was also observed that there was nowhere in the entire judgment that Emefiele was mentioned.
However, the judge’s actual comments, as contained in a judgement included: “The 1st defendant has been the beneficiary of the malevolent game of chess it plunged both claimant and the 2nd defendant into, holding the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest thereon from February 17th, 2011, until February 2, 2016, when the Court ordered that the money be paid into an interest yielding account in the names of the claimant and the 2nd defendant pending determination of the suit, which order was curiously varied by the consent of all the parties on 20th September 2016 so that the money remained in the 1st defendant’s custody without interest.

“The act of the 1st defendant was unconscionable and detrimental to the goodwill of the claimant and its trade credit with its customers. It was a deliberate and malicious act against the interest of the claimant and the 1st defendant continues to enjoy the largesse in bad faith. Exhibits C4 and C5 clearly state that the funds to be transferred were to offset part of the claimant’s indebtedness for the importation of dictionaries, but the 1st defendant was impervious to this need. I therefore find and hold that the claimant is entitled to substantial damages against the 1st defendant for the injury caused to it.”

The judge made the comments while granting the claimants four reliefs.
The reliefs were that the 1st defendant (Zenith) was in breach of contract when on October, 7, 2011, it refused the claimant to draw from its account No. 1012465427, “despite the fact that the said account was in enough credit to cover the withdrawals sought to be made on the said date.”

The judge further restrained the bank, “from disturbing or refusing the claimant from operating its account No. 1012465427 in the 1st defendant’s bank or from honouring the claimant’s transfer or payment obligations to third parties from the said account as long as same is in credit.”

It granted an, “interest of 15 per cent per annum on the sum of N872,780,552.84 from 7th October 2011 when the 1st defendant denied the claimant access to the funds in its account which was in credit at that date till judgment.

“Interest on the judgment sum at the rate of 10 per cent per annum from judgment date till final liquidation thereof. Costs of this action in the sum of N2.5 million.”

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