By Dipo Olowookere
Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Mr Charles Kie, has obtained an order from a Federal Hogh Court sitting in Lagos preventing the police from arresting him.
Some officers of the Nigeria Police Force had stormed the corporate headquarters of the lender in Lagos to arrest Mr Kie over a controversy surrounding about N3.7 billion in an account domiciled with the bank.
Justice Muslim Hassan, who is handling the case, ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris and the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Mr Edgar Imohimi, to maintain status quo as Mr Kie’s motion on notice for an order of perpetual injunction stopping his arrest is heard and determined by the court.
“I have carefully read the application, the affidavit in support, the exhibits attached and the written address of learned counsel. I am of the view that the interest of justice will be better served if the respondents are put on notice.
“Meanwhile, status quo ante bellum should be maintained pending the determination of the motion of notice,” Justice Hassan held.
The chief executive got into trouble after his bank refused to transfer the controversial N3.7 billion from the account of a customer, INT Towers Limited, to that of Emirates Fuel Exploration and Production, as ordered by a Lagos Magistrate, Mr W.B. Balogun.
One of the counsels said Ecobank received letters from the IGP requesting for information on an account being investigated for armed robbery, fraudulent act, obtaining money by false pretense and stealing.
Despite this, the bank received another letter from DCP Salami asking it to transfer N3.7 billion from the same account belonging to INT Towers to Emirates Fuel based on an order by a Magistrate’s Court.
The letter was more surprising given the fact that Ecobank was never served with court processes in the proceedings before the Magistrate Court, the holder of the account was not made a party, and the amount was far above the magistrate court’s jurisdiction, which is limited to N10 million.
As a result, the bank said it filed an application seeking to set aside the order, a stay of execution and a motion for leave to appeal against the order.
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