Magu: Bank Meets Condition for Appeal against Judgement in Favour of Abuja Cleric, Omale

Magu: Bank Meets Condition for Appeal against Judgement in Favour of Abuja Cleric, Omale

Alex Enumah in Abuja

A bank has complied with the order of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, directing it to deposit the sum of N540 million as conditions for staying the execution of a judgement entered against it by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The bank, it was learnt, paid the money on February 8, into an interest yielding account of the Chief Registrar of the court, in another bank.
According to a correspondence between counsel representing parties in the appeal, the bank took the step in a bid to prevent the initiation of contempt proceedings against its Managing Director.

Recall that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had ordered the bank to deposit the sum of N540 million in an interest yielding bank as a condition for hearing its appeal against the judgement of Justice Yusuf Halilu of a High Court of the FCT, Abuja.
Halilu had in a judgment on October 4, 2022, awarded the sum of N540 million against the bank for defaming a clergyman,  Emmanuel Omale of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry and his wife, Deborah.

The court in its judgement had held that the bank recklessly breached the duty of care it owe to the claimants – Omale, his wife and their church – by making false claim that a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, paid N573 million into the church’s account.
Dissatisfied, the bank in 2022, appealed the judgement and asked the appellate court to “stay the execution of the judgment” pending the determination of its appeal against the judgement.
However, delivering ruling in a motion for “stay”, on February 1, 2024, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Muhammed Shuaibu granted a conditional stay of the execution of the judgement by ordering the bank to pay the judgement sum of N540 million into an interest yielding account in the name of the court’s Chief Registrar.
“The application is granted as prayed in terms of the first prayer in the appellant’s motion filed on 3/11/2022.

“Consequently, conditional stay of execution of the judgment is hereby granted to the appellant.

“The condition being that the judgement sum shall be deposited into an interest yielding bank account of the court to be opened by the Chief Registrar of this court within 48 hours of the grant of this order,”  Shuaibu held.
The conditional stay granted by the Court of Appeal was alternatively conceded by the respondents – Omale, his wife and the church – in their counter affidavit to the appellant’s motion, which they had actually sought to be dismissed.
Subsequently, the respondents through their lead lawyer, Chief Gordy Uche (SAN), wrote the lead lawyer to the bank, Prof Wale Olawoyin (SAN), informing him that he would not hesitate to initiate contempt proceedings against the managing director of the bank if the money was not paid as directed by the appellate court.
During the investigation of Magu by the Justice Isa Salami-led presidential investigation panel, it was claimed that an investigation by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) revealed that the ex-EFCC chairman paid N573 million into Omale’s church’s account with which a property was allegedly bought in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 Halilu, in the judgement noted that evidence before his court showed that the bank admitted error in its report, to the NFIU, of entries in Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account.
The judge further noted that the bank claimed that the purported N573 million was wrongly reflected as credit entry in Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account by its reporting system, which it recently upgraded.
 Halilu noted that the bank admitted the error, which occasioned incalculable damage to the reputation of the claimants both within and outside the country.
He held that the claimants provided sufficient evidence to establish case of negligence against the bank.
 Halilu proceeded to award N200 million as aggravated damages; N140,500,000 as specific damages and N200 million as general damages.
The October 4 judgement by Halilu was on a defamation suit marked: FCT/HC/CV2541/2020 filed by Omale, his wife and the church against the bank.

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