NEW TWIST IN ECOBANK VS HONEYWELL CASE AS BANK APPEALS JUSTICE DAGAT’S RULING

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EcobankEcobank Nigeria Limited has appealed a ruling by Justice Jude Dagat of
the Federal High Court in Lagos striking out its winding-up petition
against Honeywell Group Limited and its sister company Anchorage
Leisures Limited.

Justice Dagat delivered the ruling on Monday on the basis that
Ecobank’s suit was an abuse of court process.

But, Ecobank, through its lawyer Kunle Ogunba (SAN), has lodged two
appeals at the Court of Appeal in Lagos against the companies on seven
grounds each.

The bank is praying the court to set aside Justice Dagat’s
consolidated ruling striking out the petition, as well as an order
directing the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to re-assign the
petition to another judge for hearing.

Ecobank also filed a motion for an order of injunction restraining
Honeywell and Anchorage or their agents from taking advantage of
Justice Dagat’s ruling as it relates to their funds of all the banks
in Nigeria pending the determination of the appeal.

The appellant, in a June 28 letter to Justice Dagat, urged the court
to “urgently assign a date for hearing of the duly filed injunction in
the interest of justice and in pursuance of the abiding tenet to
always hold the scale of justice evenly and balanced between
contending parties.”

Ecobank filed the winding-up petition against Honeywell Group’s
inability to pay an alleged debt to the tune of N5.5billion.

But the companies filed motion on notice seeking to strike out the
petition, following which the court ruled in the companies’ favour.

Ecobank is praying the appellate court to allow its appeal because
Justice Dagat erred in law on several grounds.

In one of the grounds, it said the judge occasioned a gross
miscarriage of justice and erred in law when it struck out the
winding-up petition on the ground that the indebtedness is disputed.

“Learned trial judge occasioned a gross miscarriage of justice by
striking out the appellant’s petition on grounds of an alleged
repayment made outside contract and on terms vehemently opposed by the
appellant,” the bank said.

Ecobank said the judge also erred in holding that its petition
amounted to an abuse of court process because of a suit by the
companies pending before Justice Mohammed Idris of the same court.

“The exercise of a right to commence a fresh action rather than
counter-claim in a previously commenced action by an adversary is not
an abuse of court process,” the bank said.

The appellant said Justice Dagat also erred by holding that it did not
observe all preconditions in commencing the suit because “there is no
precondition to be fulfilled before a party can exercise his
constitutional right of recourse to court.”

The bank added: “Rights guaranteed by the Constitution are
inalienable, fundamental and ranks higher to all statutory provisions
including the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.”