Anxiety over possible clampdown on GTB’s headquarters by Innoson Motors

Having lost seven of its branches to Innoson Motors’ enforcement of courts’ judgement, palpable fear has gripped stkeholders in Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) over plans by the auto firm to seal its head office this week.

GTB Plc had claimed that the judgement, which Innoson is executing was not against it but a customer of the bank, Nigerian Customs and Excise Board.

But Cornell Osigwe, Innoson Motors’ spokesman, said at the weekend that “from next week (this week), we shall move to GTB head office to enforce the judgement of courts. We will sell those properties to get our money back.” Osigwe announced that Innoson Motors had obtained a writ of Fifa from the Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State, against GTB to effect the judgment given by the Federal High Court in Ibadan and upheld by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, adding that: “The Chairman of Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, has, through a Writ of Fifa taken over Guaranty Trust Bank Plc for and on behalf of Innoson Nigeria Limited as a result of the bank’s indebtedness to Innoson Nigeria Ltd.

In a landmark decision on February 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had dismissed GTB’s appeal – SC. 694/2014 – against the judgment of Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division. “We have taken over GTBank branches in Awka and Nnewi,” and “other branches are coming soon.”

However, the bank’s Secretary, Eric Obebeduo, said in a statement that the garnishee order in question arose from a judgment of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The bank said the order was not against it but a customer of the bank, Nigerian Customs and Excise Board.

“It is important to state that the judgment allegedly in issue is in respect of Garnishee Proceedings against the account of the Nigerian Customs Services Board domiciled with the bank and not against the bank as an entity.

“The bank as a law-abiding corporate citizen is taking all necessary legal steps to address this situation and ensure that no illegal or fraudulent execution is carried out,” Obededuo said.

However, Innoson said its action, the sealing of seven GTB offices in Awka and Enugu, followed a Supreme Court judgement that affirmed the earlier judgement by the high court and the appeal court in Ibadan.

Innoson, also in a statement on Friday, claimed it obtained a court order to take control of GTB over indebtedness of N8.8 billion.

Osigwe said the company has obtained a Writ of Fifa from the Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State, against GTB to take over the bank’s properties.

According to Osigwe, Innoson Chairman, Innocent Chukwuma, has been mandated by the Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State to “take over” the bank after the Supreme Court dismissed GTB’s appeal against the judgement of the Appeal Court in Ibadan.

“The Chairman of Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, has, through a Writ of Fifa, taken over GTBank Plc for and on behalf of Innoson Nigeria Ltd as a result of the bank’s indebtedness to Innoson Nigeria Ltd.

“In a landmark decision on February 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had dismissed GTB’s appeal in a suit number SC.694/2014 – against the judgment of Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division. The Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, had in its decision of February 6, 2014, dismissed GTB’s appeal against the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division.

“Thus, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division, which ordered GTB by way of Garnishee Order absolute to pay N2.4 billion to Innoson with a 22 per cent interest per annum, on the judgments until the final liquidation of the debt. Rather than obey the judgment of the Court of Appeal, GTB approached the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision.”

The company also said that in a ruling delivered by Supreme Court,Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour dismissed GTB’s appeal and affirmed the concurrent judgment of both the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division.

According to the ruling, court ordered GTB to pay N2.4 billion to Innoson with a 22 percent interest, per annum, on the judgment until the final liquidation of the judgment.

“The judgment debt of N2.4 billion has accrued an interest of about N6,717,909,849.96 today, which results to about N8.8 billion,”

“Based on the Supreme Court’s decision of February 27, 2019 the counsel to Innoson , Prof McCarthy Mbadugha, approached the Federal High Court Awka Division for leave to enforce the judgment having obtained certificates of Judgment from the Ibadan Division of the Federal High court,” Osigwe said.

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