Ecobank Bank seeks judge’s disqualification in debt recovery case

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LAGOS, NOVEMBER 14, 2016 – Ecobank Nigeria Limited has urged the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to disqualify Justice Mohammed Idris from a suit filed against it by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.

Honeywell, Anchorage Leisures Limited and Silaom Global Services Limited sued Ecobank before Justice Idris sitting in the Lagos division of the court over an alleged debt dispute.

But the bank, in a letter to the CJ by its Company Secretary, Denike Laoye, and its Chief Legal Counsel, Kehinde Dawodu, alleged that Justice Idris had been biased against it and urged Justice Auta to transfer the case to another judge.

The bank claimed that after a number of events that took place in court, it had come to the conclusion that Justice Idris was biased against it.

Among others, the bank alleged that while ruling on a contempt charge filed against it by Honeywell and others, Justice Idris said he would not hesitate to deal with the bank, anytime the plaintiffs invoked the court’s disciplinary injunction.

The bank claimed that Justice Idris’ action suggested that the judge did not give it the “possibility of innocence or the presumption of innocence as required by law.”

The letter read in part, “The bank states unequivocally that it no longer has confidence that it will fairly and dispassionately receive justice in the subject case in light of the various events showing the court’s apparent bias against the bank and its retained firm of solicitors.

“We, therefore, sincerely pray that the subject suit be re-assigned to any other judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos.”

The bank further alleged that Justice Idris did not give it a fair hearing before refusing its application for stay of proceedings in his ruling of July 1.

Ecobank further alleged that Justice Idris disregarded its appeal before the Supreme Court and a pending motion for stay of proceedings.

It said, “Our senior counsel informed the court that, in deference to the hierarchy of courts, particularly since the issue at hand is jurisdiction, His Lordship ought to adjourn the trial pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the same issue, which appeal is ripe for hearing.

“Despite all these, His Lordship relied on the plaintiff’s sole affidavit and the ruling of 1st July, 2016, to adjourn for definite hearing the subject suit, shutting the bank out from traversing the narration by the plaintiffs’ counsel.”

It urged CJ to disqualify Justice Idris from the case.

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