N5.5bn debt: Otudeko ordered to appear in court to testify

Oba Otudeko1

Dr Oba Otudeko, Chairman Honeywell Group

Dr Oba Otudeko, Chairman Honeywell Group

Akin Kuponiyi

A Federal High Court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria today on Wednesday summoned the Chairman of Honeywell group Plc, Dr Oba Otudeko, to appear in court to give evidence, in a suit instituted by his company Anchorage Leisures against Ecobank.

The presiding judge, Mohammed Idris issued the order, while delivering a ruling in a suit filed by Anchorage Leisures Ltd and Siloam Global Ltd against Ecobank Nigeria Ltd, challenging their alleged indebtedness to the tune of N5.5bn.

The suit was adjourned till Thursday, February 8, 2018 for personal service of the subpoena/witness summons on Dr Otudeko.

When the case was mentioned on Wednesday, counsel representing Ecobank, Mr O.A Divine informed the court that he had two applications dated January 26, 2018 and January 29, 2018 respectively, but urged the court to allow him argue the application dated January 26, which was seeking a stay of proceedings in the suit.

However, in opposition to the said application, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Bode Olanipekun, after confirming receipt of the said applications, urged the court that application dated January 29 be dismissed if the defendant was not inclined to moving same, adding that he was prepared to withdraw his objection if the defendant is prepared to move the applications.

The court consequently, struck out the application dated January 29, while it urged the defence to move the application dated January 26, 2018.

In arguing the application, Mr Divine, said the crux of the application was that on December 21, 2017, the court had delivered a ruling in which it refused its (Ecobank) motion for stay of proceedings, irrespective of its notice of appeal.

He said that the applicant being aggrieved by the ruling, had filed a notice of appeal before the court, urging it to grant same, as it did not share similar jurisdiction with the court of appeal.

He argued that if the application was not granted, it would render nugatory the outcome of the appeal it filed.

In a counter affidavit, Olanipekun argued that firstly, the applicant’s affidavit in support of his motion, had no seal attached, adding that it was a requirement of rules 10 of the rules of professional conduct.

Again, he argued that reliefs three of the applicant’s interlocutory application, is for a stay of proceedings in the trial court, adding that the trial court cannot grant the final relief which the applicant is asking the Appellate court to grant.

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He argued further that the applicant had not also exhibited due diligence as they have not transmitted their records of appeal, adding that the appeal predicating the instant one, was not ripe for hearing.

Consequently, he urged the court to dismiss the application and order the applicant to open his case and call his witness, so that the case could proceed.

In his ruling, justice Idris held that having taken a cursory look at the records before him, the court was of the view that the reliefs sought by the applicant were to be decided by the appellate court.

The court accordingly, struck out the application.

When asked to call his witness, the defence counsel told the court that it intended to call the arrow head of Honeywell group, Dr. Oba Otudeko, as its first witness.

He told the court that a subpoena had been issued on the witness, who fully had knowledge of the summons, but had decided to ignore same.

Divine then urged the court to grant an adjournment, to enable the witness appear in court and give evidence in the case, failing which he would be moving the court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest and production in court.

In response, Olanipekun argued that the said subpoena could probably have been served on the intended witness recently, rather earlier, and urged the court to look at its record.

He submitted that this was a ploy to further frustrate the suit, since the defence had a second witness it could call instead of the first.

After a perusal at the records, the court held that the subpoena was only served on February 6, on a third party, and not personally on Oba Otudeko.

The court then ordered that: “In the light of the above, I will redirect that proper service of the subpoena be effected personally on the witness, to enable him attend court, and I urge counsel to cooperate in this light.”

The court consequently adjourned the case till Thursday, February 8 for continuation of hearing.

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