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CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS: ECOBANK WINS ROUND ONE OVER HONEYWELL

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The Federal High Court in Lagos last Friday struck out a contempt charge filed against Ecobank Nigeria Limited by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.
Justice Mohammed Idris held that the Form 48 and Form 49 (with which contempt proceedings are initiated) were not properly served on the alleged contemnors.
The charge had been filed by Honeywell Group, which urged the court to jail the Ecobank MD for allegedly violating an August 10, 2015 court order, which barred Ecobank from publishing the name of Honeywell Group among chronic debtors last year.
The company, through its counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), alleged that Ecobank, through its lawyer, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN), had taken steps contrary to the court’s order by filing other suits in a bid to recover the alleged debt from Honeywell.
In his ruling, however, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, held that a party seeking to jail another for disobeying a court order was duty bound to ensure that processes in contempt proceedings were duly served.
Breach of such proper service, he said, “will wrought consequences on the proceedings.”
Declining jurisdiction, Justice Idris said: “What I can see from a close examination of form 48 is that the form is stamped; the wordings are however illegible. I can see that the stamp has the date of 19th November 2015. The same applies to Form 49.
“A valid proof of service of the same forms must have endorsed therein the following, as stated by the Court of Appeal: (1) particulars of the person serving; (2) date of service; (3) time and place of service and (4) the person that accepted the service.
“I’m afraid that it appears that the Form 48 and 49 were not properly endorsed with the particulars of service. In effect, there is no reliable or authentic information before the court as to the service of the Form 48 and 49 on the defendants herein.
“This issue goes to the issue of the jurisdiction of the court. This court must act with caution. I decline jurisdiction. I hold that the jurisdiction of this court has not been properly invoked in respect of the contempt proceedings and same is hereby struck out”.
He further warned parties against taking any action that could incur the court’s wrath.
“Let me warn that orders of court are binding and enforceable until set aside by an order of court of competent jurisdiction. The order of this court that the parties maintain status quo ante bellum remains valid and binding on all the parties until set aside.
“Whenever the disciplinary jurisdiction of this court is properly invoked, this court will descend heavily without any fear on whichever party is found guilty of contempt of this court. This court barks and it bites”.
The Judge then adjourned till February 26 for hearing of Ecobank’s motion for stay of proceedings.
Justice Idris had last August 10 made an order of interim injunction restraining the bank from publishing the plaintiffs’ name as debtors.
The judge also ordered parties to maintain status quo pending hearing of the plaintiffs’ suit against Ecobank.
But while the suit was pending, Ecobank filed other suits before other judges in a bid to recover its debt from Honeywell Group and its chairman, Oba Otudeko.
Honeywell, through its lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), thereafter filed the Form 48 and Form 49, urging the High Court to hold the bank in contempt

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House Of Representatives Issues Warrant Of Arrest On Central Bank Governor, Cardoso, Accountant-General, 17 Others

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The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Petitions has asked for a warrant of arrest to be issued on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Oluwatoyin Madein, and 17 others over refusal to appear before it to answer questions on their operations.

It was gathered that the issuance of the arrest warrant was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Fred Agbedi, representing Ekeremo/Sagbama Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the committee’s hearing on Tuesday.

Agbedi, while moving the motion, said that the arrest warrant had become imperative following the attitude of the invitees, adding that the parliament worked with time and the CEOs had been invited four times but failed to respond to the invitations.

Agbedi said that the CBN Governor, the AGF and the rest of the invitees should be brought to appear before the committee by the Inspector General of Police through a warrant of arrest after due diligence by the House Speaker, Rep Tajudeen Abbas.

The Chairman of the Committee, Micheal Irom (APC-Cross River), in his ruling said that the Inspector-General of Police should ensure the invitees were brought before the committee on December 14.
It was gathered that the petitioner, Fidelis Uzowanem, had earlier said that the petition was anchored on the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) 2021 report.

Irom said, “We took up the challenge to examine the report and discovered that what NEITI put together as a report is only consolidation of fraud that has been going on in the oil and gas industry.

“It dates back to 2016 because we have been following and we put up a petition to this committee to examine what has happened.

“The 2024 budget of 27.5 trillion that has been proposed can be confidently funded from the recoverable amount that we identified in the NEITI report.

“It is basically a concealment of illegal transactions that took place in NNPCL; they have been in a sink with some oil companies where some companies that did not produce crude were paid cash core, an amount paid for crude oil production.”

 

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FCTA uncovers illegal oil refining warehouse in Abuja

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In continuation of the city cleaning exercise, Authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) with operatives of security personnel have uncovered an illegal oil refining warehouse in Mabushi, opposite Mobile filling station on Ahmadu Bello way in Abuja.

 

The Director, Department of Development Control, FCTA, Mukhtar Galadima after the operation on Thursday, said the illegal refining site was discovered during the continuation of the city cleaning exercise.

 

According to him, about three to four plot of lands designated for commercial purposes have been converted to an area where oil and diesel are being adulterated and circulated to other parts of the city.

 

Galadima explained that the city sanitation task force will look into the provision of the law and make necessary recommendations to the FCT Administration for further actions on the plots used for the activity.

 

He said there was no arrest but the items used in carrying out the illegal refining have been impounded.

 

Galadima said, “During the continuation of our city sanitation exercise in Mabushi opposite Mobile filling station on Ahmadu way, we discovered an illegal refining site where oil and diesel are being adulterated, we have done the needful by moving the items to Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

 

“From what we have seen so far, about three or four pilot of lands designated for commercial purposes have been converted to unapproved activities, which we believe the owners are fully aware, there will be consequences.

 

“We are going to look at the provision of the law and make necessary recommendations to the FCT Administration”

 

He said the administration will continue to go tough on activities being carried out without government approval,  especially revocation of the titles.

 

Collaborating, Head, operations FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Service (DRTS), Deborah Osho said the city management team during the exercise also discovered that most of the areas in the Nation’s capital have been converted to illegal car mart and motor parks.

 

She disclosed that fifteen vehicles have so far been impounded since the operation commenced about two days.

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Central Bank To Freeze Accounts Without BVN, NIN From April 2024

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said on Friday that it will freeze accounts without a Bank Verification Number (BVN) or National Identification Number (NIN) from April 2024.

This is according to a Friday circular by the apex bank which said a BVN or NIN verification will be “conducted shortly”.

It also said all BVN or NIN attached to accounts/wallets must be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024, according to the circular by the CBN Director of Payments System Management Department Chibuzo Efobi, and the Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department Haruna Mustapha.

More details later….

 

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