Court adjourns Swift Networks 7bn debt case …as Union Bank kicks

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos on Wednesday adjourned further hearing of a N7 billion debt recovery suit filed by Union Bank Plc against Swift Network Limited to March 21, 2024.

Trial Justice Daniel Osiagor  adjourned the suit to the new date due to the inability of counsel representing each of the parties to reach a consensus on the terms of settlement, when the matter came up for hearing today (Wednesday).

It will be recall that Justice Osiagor had on July 19, 2023, while granting an ex-parte application  by Union Bank’s lawyer, Temilolu Adamolekun, restrained Swift Networks Limited and its agents from dealing or accessing with monies up to the tune of N7 billion in 25 banks pending the determination of an alleged debt recovery suit.

Justice Osiagor made the orders after hearing counsel to the Union Bank, Mr. Temilolu Adamolekun move the motion ex-parte to protect the res in the suit.

Adamolekun had told the court that the orders sought for was pursuant to Section 13 Of The Federal High Court Act, Order 26 Rule 1, 2 (1), 3, Order 26 Rules 8 (1), 9 And 10, Order 28 Rules 1 (2) AND 2(1), Order 40 Rules 1(3) & (4) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 ,and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

He had listed Swift Networks as the defendant while the banks were listed as the 2nd to 25th respondents.

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Besides the Plaintiff Union Bank, the other banks are Access Bank Plc, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank Of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Globus Bank Limited, Heritage Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank Limited, Keystone Bank Limited, Lotus Bank Limited, Parallex, Polaris Bank Limited, Providus Bank Limited, Stanbic Ibtc Bank Nigeria Limited, Standard Chartered Bank Limited, Sterling Bank Plc, Suntrust Bank Nigeria Limited, Titan Trust Bank, United Bank of Nigeria, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

Specifically, Justice Osiagor, after reading the affidavit in support, the exhibits attached and the Written Address, ordered as follows:

“That an interim order of Mareva Injunction is granted restraining the Defendant (Swift Networks), its agents, privies and/or assigns or otherwise, howsoever, from dealing with any of the monies standing to its credit in all of its accounts, records or howsoever held with the 2nd to 25th respondents and also its monies standing to its credit in custody of the plaintiff up to the tune of N7,037,410,548.23 (billion) or its equivalent in any foreign currency.

“That an Interim order of Mareva Injunction is granted restraining the 2nd to 25th respondents and their agents or anyone whatsoever from releasing to the Defendant or any of its Affiliate, any monies, funds or any other instrument belonging to the defendant, to the tune of N7,037,410,548.23 or its equivalent in any foreign currency that may be or found in the custody or possession of the 2nd to 25th respondents.”

The court also granted an Interim Injunction restraining Swift Networks by itself or through anyone from tampering with or dealing in any manner with any of its assets/properties in whatsoever form within the jurisdiction of the court, “particularly but not limited to all the assets/properties within the premises of the defendants at 31, Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos State.”

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The court further directed the 2nd to 25th Respondents to “disclose on oath whatever sum of money that may be in their custody belonging to the Defendant for further direction of this court.”

However, while the orders lasted, Swift Network Limited through its lawyer, Anthony Ajibola Aribisala, approached the court for the lifting of the orders on the ground that his client, swift network limited was in settlement talk with the applicant, Union Bank Plc.

However, at the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, Kunle Ogunba, SAN, led Temilolu Adamolekun and other lawyers for Union Bank Plc, whilst Ajibola Aribisala, SAN, led a team on behalf of the defendant and Kene Akuma appeared for Suntrust bank Nig Ltd.

Aribisala informed the court of their application dated February 7, 2024, seeking to join UTL Trust as plaintiffs in this suit.

However, Ogunba noted that the said application was brought to his attention this morning and we would want to look at same and respond (if need be).

He also noted that the said application is secondary as parties were not yet ad idem in respect of the Terms of Settlement

Ogunba also expressed his displeasure on the conduct of the defendant’s counsel who wrote to the plaintiff directly without copying its solicitors on record.

Following the inability of the parties to reach a consensus, Justice Osiagor matter was adjourned to March 21, 2024,  for report of settlement.

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