By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Some key members of the board of directors of Wema Bank Plc may be thrown behind bars if they are unable to convince the judge why they should not be guests of the correctional centres.
Wema Bank and six of its officials have been asked to appear in court on Monday, February 17, 2020 to explain why their next cooling place should not be at the prison.
On Monday, Chairman of the bank, Mr Babatunde Kasali; MD/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise; the Deputy Managing Director, Moruf Oseni; the Company Secretary, Johnson Lebile; and two executive directors, Wole Akinleye and Folake Sanu, are to appear before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to explain why they have refused to carry out a court order.
According to reports, the order of the court was sequel to two different similar garnishee suits filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Mr Ajibola Aribisala (SAN) on behalf of Heritage Bank against Ondo State Government and the Attorney General of the state, and then the second suit against Idanre Local Government Universal Basic Education Authority, Ondo State Government and Attorney General of Ondo State.
Heritage Bank, having obtained judgement against the two parties at an Ondo State High Court in the sum of N1 billion out of which N600 million has been paid leaving balance of about N400 million, while the judgement against Idanre Local Government Universal Basic Education Authority is in the sum of N405,431,460 .98 Heritage Bank then initiated garnishee proceeding against the parties in the two suits.
On December 6, 2019, the court made the Order Nisi against Wema Bank Plc absolute attaching the principal judgement sum Of N134,034,175.41. Wema Bank Plc, thereafter deposed to affidavit that Ondo State Government has N744,771,993.3 standing to its credit and same has been attached in compliance with the order of the court. But the bank refused to comply with the order of the court to pay the money despite the demand made by Mr Aribisala on behalf of Heritage Bank.
However, Wema Bank in its response letter claimed not to comply with the order of the court based on the Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution filed by the Ondo State Government at the Court of Appeal.
Thereafter, Heritage Bank caused the Registrar of the Court to issue Form 48, Notice of Consequence of disobedience of order of the court against the officers of the bank cited for contempt, still the order of the court was not obeyed. Hence. the need for the issuance of Form 49 asking the parties cited for contempt to show cause why order of committal should not be made against them for flagrantly disobeying the orders of the court.
On February 5, 2020 when the matter came up for hearing, Mr Aribisala, in his argument and submission before the court contended that it is obvious that parties cited for contempt are not in court and that the court must compel their presence in court, he then urged the court to issue bench warrant against official of Wema Bank Plc cited for contempt to compel them to appear in court.
However, the counsel for the official of Wema Bank cited for contempt, Mr Wemimo Ogunde (SAN), contended that the Form 49 was filed and served on the parties and before then Wema Bank has already filed an application for stay of execution pending appeal and that the record of appeal has already been entered at the court of appeal.
Consequently, after listening to the two parties the court adjourned till February 14, 2020 for ruling.
Justice Aneke, in his ruling relating to the two suits, said, “The said appeal lodge by the parties cited for contempt has nothing to do with the Form 49 served on them for their failure to comply with the order of the court in respect to the order made absolute against Wema Bank Plc.
“Accordingly, the parties cited for contempt are hereby given 72 hours from Monday February 17, 2020 to appear before the court to explain why committal order would not be made against them for flagrant disobedience of the extant positive orders of the court.”
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