2nd June, 2011
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, South West Nigeria, has discharged an order made on 2 November, 2010, restraining a Nigerian businessman and chairman of IBG Investment Company Limited, Chief Cletus Ibeto, from removing the one unit model G4-40 complete Kovako Pneaumatic Shipnunloader presently lying at the Port Harcourt factory of the company.
The courtâ€™s order was sequel to an ex-parte motion obtained by Afribank Nigeria Plc, restraining Chief Ibeto and his company from moving or dismantling the shipnunloader pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
The presiding judge, Justice Binta Molokwu, also ordered that the shipunloader should be put under the custody of the Deputy Sherrif of the Federal High Court and take steps to secure it from being dismantled or disposed of.
The court made the order after hearing the argument and submission of Barrister A.I. Unegbu from the law firm of Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), who filed the suit on behalf of Afribank.
However, in an affidavit sworn to by a senior litigation officer, Mr. Peter Oji, from the chambers of Joseph Nwobike (SAN), filed and argued by Mr. Joseph Nwobike, the defendants contended that the order ought not to have been granted because Afribank concealed some material facts.
The defendant, IBG Investment, on 24 May, 2010 and before the commencement of the suit by the bank, had instituted its own suit of which the parties, issues and subject matter were the same. In addition, there is a subsisting order of the court made by Justice Abang, directing the parties to maintain the status quo with respect to all matters relating to the alleged indebtedness being the subject matter of this suit.
The said order of the court was to the full knowledge of Afribank and aside the the one to maintain the status quo, the bank had also entered appearance in the suit by its counsel from Agbakobaâ€™s chambers.
Consequently, Mr. Nwobike told the court that from the foregoing, the suit as well as the interim order made on 2 November and 2 December, 2010, constituted an abuse of court process.
According to him, if the bank had made full disclosure to the court as to the existence and pendency of the interim order, it would not have granted the order restraining the defendants, consequently, the court was urged to discharge and set aside the order made against Chief Ibeto and his company.
In her ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Binta Molokwu, while discharging the order and set aside the interim order, said â€œthe pendency of three other suits and the order of the court to maintain the status quo, as the issue of IBG Investment Company Limitedâ€™s indebtedness to the bank is crucial that ought to have been brought to the courtâ€™s notice in seeking the ex-parte order. In consequence, I hereby discharge and set aside the interim order as well as suspending its execution or its compliance.â€