N17bn debt: Court discharges 19 banks, Afex administrators face contempt

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday mounted July 8, 2024, for listening to of all pending functions in a contempt swimsuit initiated by Guaranty Trust Bank Limited in opposition to the administrators of the Afex Exchange Commodities Limited over alleged N17, 808, 452, 467. 107 mortgage indebtedness.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke mounted the date after taking arguments and submissions from counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. Ade Adedeji (SAN) and counsel for the respondent, Prof. Wale Olawoyin (SAN).

The plaintiff,  Guaranty Trust Bank Limited, searching for to get better an alleged N17bn debt from Afex, had on May 27, 2024, obtained an interim Global Standing Instruction stopping Afex from accessing its funds in all business banks within the nation.

The PUNCH stories that GSI is utilized as a final resort for banks and monetary establishments to get better excellent loans from power debtors.

Justice Aneke, who granted the GSI, additionally granted GTbank’s prayer to take over the warehouses of Afex in quite a lot of states within the nation.

The financial institution, nevertheless, alleged that Afex Exchange Commodities Limited and the banks flouted the GSI, therefore, it commenced contempt proceedings, asking the court docket to jail them for disobeying a court docket order.

The Afex administrators cited for contempt have been listed as Ayodeji Olaleye Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Lee Topilow, Mobolaji Oluwatomi Adeoye, and Koonal Bharat Ghandi.

At the resumed listening to of the case on Thursday, GTBank’s lawyer, Adedeji, urged the court docket to discharge 19 banks who had proven trigger that Afex has no account with them.

Subsequently, the decide struck out the names of the 19 banks, which embody Citi Bank, Wema Bank, Standard Trust Bank,  Keystone Bank, Signature Bank, Titan Trust Bank and Unity Bank.

Others are Parallex Bank, Jaiz Bank Plc, Lotus Bank Limited, Providus Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Suntrust Bank Limited, and Polaris Bank Limited, Ecobank,  Heritage Bank Plc and Unity Bank Plc.

Adedeji then urged the court docket to proceed with contempt proceedings in opposition to the administrators of Afex Exchange Commodities Limited.

But counsel for the alleged contemnors, Olawoyin, objected, saying there have been no competent contempt proceedings earlier than the court docket.

Olawoyin knowledgeable the court docket that two of the administrators cited for contempt,  Balogun and Adeoye, have been in court docket.

He additional informed the court docket that others cited for contempt comparable to  Fraaser,  Topilow, and Ghandi are foreigners and have been not Directors of Afex Exchange Commodities Limited.

Olawoyin submitted a diligent search of Afex Exchange Commodities Limited administrators on the Corporate Affairs Commission, which revealed that among the individuals cited for contempt had resigned from the corporate a number of years in the past.

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Justice Aneke subsequently adjourned additional listening to within the swimsuit until July 8, 2024, for listening to of all pending functions.

Meanwhile, the decide granted a movement ex parte, directing 13 business banks and cash deposit banks to adjust to the order of the court docket to offer an in depth assertion of account of the defendant/respondent firm for the previous three months i.e. up and till May, 27,2024.

The banks are Access Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Limited.

Others are Stanbic Ibtc Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, TAJ Bank Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Optimus Bank Limited, and FBNQuest Merchant Bank.

The order reads: “That an order is hereby made directing the business banks and cash deposit banks herein enumerated as 1st — thirteenth respondents banks, according to the orders of this honourable court docket dated May, 27, 2024 and June, 10, 2024, to offer an in depth assertion of account of the defendant/respondent firm for the previous three months i.e., up and till May, 27 2024.

“That an order is hereby made compelling the first — thirteenth respondent banks to file a complete assertion of account of the defendant/respondent’s transactions for the previous three months up and till the date of the order dated May, 27 2024, with a certificates of identification, in compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011.

“That an order is hereby made mandating the commercial banks and money deposit banks herein enumerated as 1st — 13th respondent banks to comply with all applicable statutory requirements when providing financial records, to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of such records in line with the guidelines stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria and other regulatory bodies.”

On May 27, 2024, Justice Aneke granted an interim Global Standing Instruction injunctive aid, following an utility by Chief Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), on behalf of GTBank.

The court docket additionally granted a “pre-judgment curiosity on the N15,766,475,417.06 on the prevailing rediscounted fee of 28 per cent yearly, as accredited by the CBN from April 18, 2024, when the plaintiff’s letter of demand dated April 17, 2024 was delivered to the defendant, till judgment is delivered on this swimsuit.

“Post-judgment interest on the said sum of N15,766,475,417.06 and cost of recovery and incidental expenses in the sum of N2,041,977,050.047.”

The court docket additional granted a compulsory injunction commanding the defendant/respondent to permit the plaintiff to nominate its appointed agent to take over the commodities/produce saved by the defendant within the 16 warehouses throughout the seven states.

Meanwhile, the defendants of their preliminary objection, are asking the court docket to say no jurisdiction to entertain any contempt proceedings “in relation to or connected with or arising from the Notice of Disobedience of Court Order (Form 48) dated May 31, 2024 or any alleged non-compliance with the ex parte order of the court dated May 27, 2024.”

They acknowledged that the alleged contemptuous act was executed exterior the precincts of the court docket, making the identical, a contempt ex facie curiae.

In an affidavit in help of the discover of preliminary objection deposed to by one Akala Richard, an affiliate within the capital market gross sales division of the defendant/objector, he acknowledged that the curiosity of justice could be higher served by the placing out of all the contempt proceedings initiated by the plaintiff within the swimsuit.



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