Court jails Fidelity Bank MD, Secretary for contempt

A Chief Magistrate Court in Ogba, Lagos State has jailed the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank PLC, Nneka Chinwe Onyeali-Ikpe, and Company Secretary, Ezinwa Unuigboje.

The Magistrate, Lateef Owolabi jailed the Managing Director and Company Secretary six weeks each recently.

Lateef jailed Onyeali-Ikpe and Unuigboje for disobedience of a garnishee order of court restraining the bank from allowing a judgment debtor access to his account.

The garnishee order, given on December 6, 2022, was for 16 banks not to allow a judgment debtor, Prince Enabulele Ozaze, access to his bank accounts pending the payment of a N2.8 million judgment debt in a suit over the sale of a Toyota Corolla car.

In the main suit, Magistrate Owolabi had given judgment on October 13, 2022 in favour of the plaintiff, Jibrin Ahmed, who sued Ozaze over the payment of N2.8 million he made to him for the purchase of a Toyota Corolla car.

He then said: “I have examined the whole process filed by the claimant and hold that the claimant is entitled to judgment not necessarily because the defendant is absent, but because the claimant has made a case worthy of being entitled to judgment.

“The totalities of evidence presented are relevant and reliable.”

Owolabi thereafter entered judgment against the defendant in the sum of N2.8 million, which is due to the claimant over the transaction that took place in July 2022.

In order to reap the fruit of the judgment, the claimant’s lawyer, Alayo Akanbi, filed a garnishee proceeding before the court and attached 17 banks.

Akanbi asked the court to stop the banks from allowing the defendant to draw money from his accounts with them pending the liquidation of the debt.

The garnishee order was granted on December 6, 2022.

However, on January 25, 2023, the claimant, now judgment creditor, deposed to an affidavit before the court where he showed that the garnishee order has been flouted by Fidelity Bank.

Ahmed showed instances of how the judgment debtor had been withdrawing funds from his account to the extent that he had depleted the funds in his account with Fidelity Bank.

He claimed that the judgment debtor has N3,165,759.05k in his account with Fidelity Bank as at January 12, 2023 when the garnishee order was served on the bank.

By January 15, three days after service, the judgment debtor had withdrawn N725,547.80k from the account.

The following day, January 16, 2023, another N251,305.90 was transferred out of the account.

On January 17, the Legal Officer of the bank, Obianuju Nwosu, confirmed service on the bank as at December 22, 2022 and further apologised for the transactions on the account.

On January 18, 2023, the court ordered the Managing Director and Company Secretary to appear in person to explain why they should not be committed to prison for allowing the judgment debtor to dissipate the funds in his account after the service of the garnishee order nisi.

At the proceeding on Monday, Onyeali-Ikpe and Unuigboje were not in court as ordered.

Lawyer to the judgment creditor told the court how the two had disobeyed the garnishee order of the court.

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