Court grants Ecobank leave to join Otudeko, Flour Mills in debt recovery suit 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted Ecobank leave to join Dr. Oba Otudeko, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc and Honeywell Group Limited as additional defendants to the counter-claim filed by the bank seeking to recover monies pursuant to the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in favour of the bank on January 27, 2023.

Trial judge, Justice Yellim Bogoro made the order in suit FHC/L/CS/352/2023 following Ecobank’s application filed by its lawyer, Mr. Kunle Ogunba, SAN.

The parties in the suit are 1. Anchorage Leisures Limited, Siloam Global Limited and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc as Plaintiffs/Respondents and Ecobank as Defendant/Applicant.

Specifically, the judge granted two out of the bank’s four prayers as contained in its motion on notice.

They are a)”An order for extension of time and/or leave of the court for the defendant/applicant to file and serve its counter-claim to the suit.

b) An order granting leave to the defendant/counter-claimant to join (1) Mr. Oba Otudeko; (2), Honeywell Group Limited and (3) Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc., as additional defendants to the counter-claim.”

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The other two prayers which were withdrawn by Mr. Ogunba and struck out by the court are:

c). “An order amending the Statement of Defence, Witness Statement on Oath and List of Documents to include the facts/documents related to the Counter-Claim as contained in the attached Amendment Statement of Defence and Counter-Claim.

d). “An order deeming the already filed and served Counter-Claim dated May 22, 2023, as having been properly filed and served.”

Bode Olanipekun, SAN, represented plaintiffs while Taiwo Osipintan, SAN, appeared for the Applicant in a motion seeking to strike out some paragraphs of Ecobank’s preliminary objection.

C.I Umeche appeared for Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc.

Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc

At the commencement of proceedings, Taiwo Osipintan, SAN, said: “We received a letter from Ecobank indicating its intention to withdraw some of the paragraphs we’re objecting to and prayers 4 and 5 of the applicant’s motion dated April 5, 2023.”

But Ogunba informed the court that his intention to withdraw the paragraphs we’re not new.

He said: “We had actually indicated that we would withdraw it at the last adjourned date but we took a formal step by writing to counsel.

“We equally have a motion dated the May 22, 2023. It’s seeking extension of time to file our counter-claim and also leave to join additional defendants to the counter-claim, subject to the overriding convenience of the court, I hereby move in terms of the motion.”

Olanipekun did not oppose the application.

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He said: “I’m not opposed to the application but I have an observation about relief D because the deeming order can not be granted.

On his part, counsel for Flour Mills stated that: “The motion on notice of the counter claimant is grossly incompetent, because the applicant failed to wait for the court to consider the propriety of the application before proceeding to file the counter claim.

Ruling on the arguments, Justice Bogoro granted the Ecobank reliefs A and B.

“Prayers D and C is hereby struck out,” having been withdrawn by Ogunba SAN, he added.

He adjourned till July 19 for report of service.

It is to be noted that the Plaintiffs filed this suit against the Bank after the Supreme Court judgment which affirmed the indebtedness of the Honeywell companies to Ecobank.

The Plaintiffs through their senior counsel; Olabode Olanipekun SAN also filed a motion dated February 28, 2023, seeking to restrain Ecobank from demanding payment of any sum in excess of the difference between N5.5billion and N3.5billion, after the judgment of the Supreme Court in favour of the bank, which stated that the plaintiffs must pay all their debt to the bank in line with the contract documents executed by the parties.

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