A Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced the Group Managing Director of Skye Bank, Mr. Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti, to prison for contempt.
Justice Charles Archibong delivered the judgment yesterday while ruling in a suit instituted by Desange Nigeria Limited. Desange had secured a judgment against the Nigeria Customs Service in 2010, but the organisation refused to pay the judgment sum.
Dissatisfied with the development, Desange said it filed a motion to garnishee the accounts of Customs in five banks — Zenith, Sterling, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Skye Bank.
All the banks were said to have complied with the court order by filling affidavit to show cause and also complied fully with the court order by paying the judgment sum, but Skye Bank refused to pay the money.
The bank however disclosed that it filed an affidavit stating that the Nigeria Customs has an account with it, but it is a collection account, and as such the balances in it belong to the Federal Government, and cannot be attached. The bank also claimed to have deposed to the fact that the account is a no debit account.
According to the bank, “despite of this, the judge made the order absolute, ordering us to pay the sum of N6m from the Federal government’s money, knowing full well that the Federal government is not the judgment debtor, and the money does not belong to the judgment debtor, the Nigerian Customs Service.”
Desangem, continuing, said, Skye Bank, rather filed an objection to the garnishee proceedings, but same objection was dismissed by the court on the ground that it lacked merit. The bank subsequently issued a cheque in the sum of N10. 8million, as payment for the judgment sum, but the cheque was dishonored when it was presented for payment, an indication that the bank issued a dud cheque.
According to Desange, it then filed form 48 and 49 to commit Durosinmi-Etti to prison for disobeying a valid court order.
Durosinmi-Etti was listed as contemnors in the contempt proceedings, including Skye Bank Chairman, Morenikeji Onasanya, the company secretary of the bank, Abimbola Izu and five executive directors of the bank; Gbenga Ademulegan, Dotun Adeniyi, Amaka Onwugbalu, Timothy Oguntayo and Mrs. Ibiye.
After an ex-parte motion argued by Desange, the court said, “the discharge (dud cheque), which was based on a deception of the court is hereby revoked and the bank (Skye Bank) will pay in the account of the judgment debtor the value of the draft they presented in court on the last adjourned date.”
The court further adjourned the matter till July 11 for report of compliance with the court order.