By Dipo Olowookere
Last week, news went viral that some board members of Wema Bank Plc risk jail term over their alleged refusal to release funds belonging to the Ondo State government in its care to Heritage Bank.
It was reported that Heritage Bank approached a court in Lagos, seeking the Chairman, MD/CEO and other members on the board to explain why they have refused to obey a court order which asked their bank to release the funds after a court judgement.
Wema Bank, in a message to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said the matter has been resolved by the parties, saying there’s nothing to worry about anymore because the “the committal proceeding against Wema Bank has been withdrawn.”
Heritage Bank had obtained judgement against Ondo State government sometime in February 2016 in the Ondo State High Court, Akure. The judgement was subsequently registered at the Federal High Court Lagos in 2019.
In a bid to enforce the judgement, Heritage Bank initiated garnishee proceedings at the Federal High Court Lagos against several parties, including Wema Bank Plc believed to be in custody of monies belonging to the state government.
In the statement, Wema Bank said at this proceeding, it declared the funds of Ondo State government with it, while the government filed a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court which the court ruled against.
Thereafter, the garnishee order was made absolute against the bank and immediately after the order was made absolute, Ondo State served Wema Bank with a notice of appeal and a motion for stay of execution pending the outcome of the appeal.
“Based on the Appeal and the application for stay, Wema Bank had to exercise caution in the release of the garnishee sum.
‘Subsequently, Heritage Bank filed a committal proceeding against Wema Bank, asking the directors of Wema Bank to appear before the court to explain why the bank had not released Ondo State’s funds in satisfaction of the judgment in favour of Heritage bank. Hence, the news and publications in the media,” the notice said.
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