A Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced the Group Managing Director of Skye Bank, Mr. Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti, to prison for disobeying its order. Durosinmi-Etti is also to pay N5m and remain in jail “until he purges himself of contempt.”
Justice Charles Archibong delivered the judgment in a suit instituted by Desange Nigeria Limited, the judgment creditor. Desange had secured a judgment against the Nigeria Customs Service in 2010, but the organisation refused to pay the judgment sum. This forced Desange to file a motion to garnishee the accounts of the NCS in five banks.
The banks were Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Skye Bank. Four of the banks were said to have fully complied with the order by paying the judgment sum, but Skye Bank allegedly refused to pay.
Instead, the bank filed an objection to the garnishee proceedings, but it (objection) was dismissed by the court on the grounds that it lacked merit. Thereafter, the bank issued a cheque in the sum of N10,820,680.25 as payment for the judgment sum, but the cheque was not honoured when it was presented for payment.
According to the court processes, Desange then filed form 48 and 49 to commit Durosinmi-Etti to prison for disobeying the order.
Apart from Durosinmi-Etti, others listed as contemnors were the Skye Bank Chairman, Chief Morenikeji Onasanya; the Company Secretary, Abimbola Izu, and five executive directors of the bank – Gbenga Ademulegan, Dotun Adeniyi, Amaka Onwugbalu, Timothy Oguntayo and Mrs. Ibiye. But Skye Bank, through its Corporate Affairs Head, Mr. Kayode Akinyemi, flayed the action of the judge .
“It is important to note that the judge does not have any jurisdiction to entertain this matter anymore, as the appeal has been entered at the Court of Appeal,” the bank added.
It argued that an appeal number had been issued and the case file transferred to the Court of Appeal. With these, the bank stated, “It is, therefore, curious under what basis the judge is exercising jurisdiction.”
It said, “Justice Archibong made a Garnishee Order Nisi against the account of Nigeria Customs with us. We filed an affidavit stating that the Nigeria Customs has an account with us, but it is a collection account, and as such the balances in it belong to the Federal Government, and cannot be attached. We also deposed to the fact that the account is a no debit account.
“In spite of this, the judge made the order absolute, ordering us to pay the sum of N6m from the Federal Government’s money, knowing full well that the government is not the judgment debtor, and the money does not belong to the judgment debtor, the customs service.”
The court adjourned the matter till July 11.