Justice Muslim Sule Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos has set aside an ex-parte order freezing the bank accounts of a member of the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Clement Omeiza Baiye, and two others companies, Verity Communications Limited and Verity Associates Limited.
The suit was formerly before Justice Maurine Onyetenu before it was re-assigned to Justice Hassan
Justice Onyetenu had on June 16, 2020, granted an ex-parte interlocutory injunction brought by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) against Capital Consortium Limited (1st defendant) and seven others over alleged N128,975,094.04 debt
Others defendants are Falobi Owolabi (2nd defendant), Clement Baiye (3rd defendant), Idris Bashir (4th defendant), Credence Assets Management Limited (5th defendant), Verity Communications Limited (6th defendant), Alidan Investments Limited (7th defendant), and Verity Associates Limited (8th defendant).
Baiye was joined in the suit for being a Director of the Capital Consortium Limited (first defendant) when the facility was granted to the company by the defunct Intercontinental Bank while his companies were sued based on him being a substantial shareholder of the companies.
AMCON had through its lawyer, Chris Eze, demanded among other reliefs, the sum of N128,975,094.04.
By the statement of claim, the above sum includes interest from the original loan of the sum of N49,282,127 which was later purchased by AMCON.
Pursuant to an ex-parte, application filed by AMCON, Justice Onyetenu ordered the freezing of defendants’ accounts and granted AMCON possession of the 2nd defendant’s property at 11C/D Femi Okunnu Estate Phase II, Lagos.
Upon being served with the ex-parte orders, the 3rd, 6th and 8th defendants, through their counsel, Professor Taiwo Osipitan, SAN, filed a Motion on Notice dated August 21, 2020, seeking an order of court setting aside/discharging the ex-parte interlocutory orders granted by the court against the 3rd, 6th and 8th defendants.
In his application, Osipitan argued that the interlocutory orders were unconstitutional and oppressive of the applicants given the circumstances of the case.
He submitted that the interlocutory orders were in violation of the applicants’ constitutional and fundamental rights and consequently irregularly granted and liable to be set aside.
He stated that there were no duly certified copies of relevant documents/exhibits attached in support of the application for ex-parte interlocutory orders granted by the court.
Osipitan further argued that the computer generated exhibits ACC4 attached to the ex-parte application which resulted in the interlocutory injunctive orders did not comply with Section 84 of the Evidence Act on computer generated evidence and therefore inadmissible.
Osipitan urged the court to grant the application and set aside the freezing order.
But, lawyer to AMCON, Chris Eze submitted that the defendants are not entitled to the reliefs sought on the grounds that the facts in support of the motion are incompetent for delving into the merits of the case vide an interlocutory application.
He argued that if the motion is granted, the accounts and assets of 3rd, 6th and 8th defendants shall be lost as a result of being pillaged there by foisting on the court a fait accompli.
He further submitted that the condition precedent was satisfied before the granting of the ex-parte order; and that AMCON’s matters are sui generis as enshrined and preserved by the constitution.
In his ruling, Justice Hassan held that the ex-parte order was obtained based on copies of public documents not certified and inadmissible in law.
“The law is trite that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there, it will collapse.
“Exhibits ACC1-5 are public documents which provided the platform for the grant of the ex-parte application were not certified contrary to the provisions of Sections 102, 104 and 105 of the Evidence Act. The instant application is meritorious and it is hereby granted,’’ the court held