Alleged N5.5bn debt: Court strikes out Ecobank’s application to wind-up Honeywell
Justice Jude Kanyioh Dagat of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday, struck out an application by Ecobank Nigeria Plc seeking to wind-up Honeywell, and its sister company, Anchorage Leisures Limited, and held that the application is an abuse of court process.
Ecobank Nigeria Limited had urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain Anchorage Leisures Limited from accessing its funds in 20 banks over an alleged N5.5billion debt.
The bank is claiming that Anchorage and its sister companies, Honeywell Group Nig. Limited and Honeywell Four Mills Plc, are indebted to it.
But, ruling on the application, Justice Dagat noted that a court faced with winding up application, must first determine if the petition was brought in good faith.
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The judge stated that Ecobank was aware that Honeywell had challenged the alleged debt, and instituted a suit before a sister court presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris, who ruled that parties should maintain status quo antenna bellum.
The court held that despite these orders, Ecobank started its forum shopping by filing winding up petitions against Honeywell.
Justice Dagat stated that since the matter pending before Justice Idris is premised on the same facts as in the petition filed by the bank, there is an established abuse of the orders of Justice Idris regarding maintenance of status quo ante bellum.
Justice Dagat further held that the matter before Justice Idris is first in time, therefore the subsequent petition by Ecobank constitutes an abuse of court process.
The court held that Ecobank’s petition is aimed at overreaching the powers of the Federal High court in the suit before Justice Idris.
The court held that ‘’the Supreme Court has made it clear that it would amount to a travesty of justice for any court to hear a matter that is already before another court of coordinate jurisdiction.
“It is not in the interest of justice to allow this petition to stand even as the jurisdiction of the court has not been invoked on the matter.”
Ecobank’s petition was therefore struck out and Honeywell’s challenge was upheld, the court held.
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