It has been observed in the media space that unscrupulous elements have twisted and misconstrued the judgment delivered by the Hon. Justice O. O. Abike-Fadipe on 8th March 2022 in the lawsuit No.: I.D/ADR/186/2014 involving one of Nigeria’s foremost financial institutions, Zenith Bank Plc. The case which commenced in 2011 involved the Real Intergrated and Hospitality Limited as claimant and two parties, Zenith Bank Plc and State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) as first and second defendants respectively.
As against the claims of detractors, there is nowhere in the certified true copy of the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja Judicial Division that the Hon. Justice O. O. Abike-Fadipe declared that the Zenith Bank Plc is a fraud unworthy of dealings of the general public. Also, the judgment never read that the Zenith Bank Plc bribed the judges and lawyers in the case thus elongating the duration of the lawsuit. Further, there was no mention of the name of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and he should never be joined into the matter whether in his previous or current roles.
To restate, Zenith Bank is the first defendant in the court case. Here are the comments that the Hon. Justice O. O. Abike-Fadipe stated against the bank.
The judge’s comments, as contained in the judgement, include: “The 1st defendant has been the beneficiary of the malevolent game of chess it plunged both claimant and the 2nd defendant into, holding the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest thereon from 17th February 2011 until 2nd February 2016 when the Court ordered that the money be paid into an interest yielding account in the names of the claimant and the 2nd defendant pending determination of the suit, which order was curiously varied by the consent of all the parties on 20th September 2016 so that the money remained in the 1st defendant’s custody without interest.”
“The act of the 1st defendant was unconscionable and detrimental to the goodwill of the claimant and its trade credit with its customers. It was a deliberate and malicious act against the interest of the claimant and the 1st defendant continues to enjoy the largesse in bad faith. Exhibits C4 and C5 clearly state that the funds to be transferred were to offset part of the claimant’s indebtedness for the importation of dictionaries, but the 1st defendant was impervious to this need. I therefore find and hold that the claimant is entitled to substantial damages against the 1st defendant for the injury caused to it.”
The Hon. Justice then granted the claimant, that is, Real Intergrated and Hospitality Limited four reliefs. The reliefs include that the 1st defendant (Zenith Bank) was in breach of contract when on 7th October, 2011 it refused the claimant to draw from its account No. 1012465427 “despite the fact that the said account was in enough credit to cover the withdrawals sought to be made on the said date.”
The judge further restrained the bank “from disturbing or refusing the claimant from operating its account No. 1012465427 in the 1st defendant’s bank or from honouring the claimant’s transfer or payment obligations to third parties from the said account as long as same is in credit.”
It granted an “interest of 15% per annum on the sum of N872,780,552.84 from 7th October 2011 when the 1st defendant denied the claimant access to the funds in its account which was in credit at that date till judgment.
“Interest on the judgment sum at the rate of 10% per annum from judgment date till final liquidation thereof.
“Costs of this action in the sum of N2.5million.”
That’s the true position on the matter, lawsuit No.: I.D/ADR/186/2014, involving Zenith Bank Plc. Why anyone or group should want to misrepresent the bank in the public eye as to this case is unimaginable. To engage in a campaign of calumny is unsatisfactory.
In closing, it is important to state clearly that members of the 4th Estate of the realm ought to make adequate findings before going ahead to publish using their different mediums. It is important that we avoid sensationalism and untruth so that we can actively participate in the preservation of the sanctity of our Judiciary. It is important that our reports should never engage in further damaging the frail socioeconomic and political status of our country as it stands