Lagos - A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, restrained Access Bank Plc from enforcing the order of an English court, freezing the accounts of the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas, Mr Ifeanyi Ubah.
The restraining order was made in a suit filed by Ubah, in which Access Bank and the Managing Director of Coscharis Motors, Mr Cosmos Maduka, are defendants.
Justice Okon Abang, in his ruling, expressed dissatisfaction with the action of the defendants in obtaining an order from an English court, when the substantive suit was pending before a Federal High Court in Nigeria.
The judge further gave the defendants 48 hours to file a notice of discontinuance in the suit before the London Court, noting that their action was tantamount to undermining the Nigerian judiciary.
``I am highly disappointed at the defendants’ action in obtaining an order from an English court during the pendency of a substantive suit before this court.
``The plaintiff is at liberty to commence civil contempt proceedings against the defendants in this suit, for disobeying a subsisting court order.
``The defendants are also restrained from enforcing any provisions of the order made by the English court, against the assets and business interest of Capital Oil and Gas Ltd,’’ Abang ruled.
He adjourned the case to Feb. 4, to hear a preliminary objection by the defendants.
The ruling came after counsel to the plaintiff, Wole Olanipekun, (SAN), informed the court that the defendants had obtained an order from a London Court, violating the local court’s subsisting order.
He said that the plaintiff approached the foreign court and got the order after interim orders were made by the Federal High Court.
Olanipekun, who tendered the proceedings of the London court as exhibits, described the action of Access Bank as “banking lawlessness” and urged the court to restrain the defendants from enforcing provisions of the order.
Counsel to Access Bank, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), in his response, objected to the admissibility of the proceedings of the English Court as exhibits, saying they were not certified.
He denied an allegation that the order interfered with the business interest of the plaintiff.
Counsel to Coscharis Motors, Mr Osita Mbamalu, had aligned with the submissions of Usoro, urging the court not to admit the London Court's proceedings as exhibits.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiff had instituted the suit against the defendants in the Federal High Court in October 2012.
The case is over a N10 billion loan facility which Access Bank claimed to have given to Capital Oil and Gas Ltd.
Among other reliefs, the plaintiff is seeking a declaration that they are not indebted to Access Bank in any sum whatsoever and had never directly or indirectly obtained any loan facility from the bank.
The judge had made an interim order, restraining the defendants from taking further steps in the subject matter, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
NAN recalls that the order of the London Court was made on Nov. 9, 2012.
The order ordered the freezing of assets of Ubah and Capital Oil worth 133.5 million dollars in England and Wales