Group Managing Director of Honeywell Group Plc, Dr Oba Otudeko, on Thursday , appeared before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, South West Nigeria, to give evidence, in relation to a N5.5billion debt allegedly owed Ecobank Nigeria Plc.
Justice Mohammed Idris had ordered his appearance in court, via a subpoena (witness summons), while ruling in a suit by Anchorage Leisures Ltd against Ecobank Nigeria Ltd.
The Plaintiff is challenging the alleged indebtedness to the bank, to the tune of N5.5billion.
Justice Idris had ordered that a witness summons be personally served on Otudeko, following insistence of defence counsel, who argued that he (Otudeko) was his first witness.
The court had accordingly, issued a summon, to enable him (Otudeko) appear and testify before the court today before
At the resumed hearing yesterday, Oba Otudeko swore on the holy bible, before his evidence in chief, Otudeko prayed the court for permission to speak and it was granted.
He told the court, that the said witness summons was not served on him personally, but that he was only informed by his counsels. He stated further that “This is the first experience, and I am extremely delighted to be here to see all professionals in practice; I was away from Lagos, and only got a call from my officers who informed me of the position, and i came back yesterday.
“I have great respect for the institution of the court, and so I have deposed to my witness statement and have filed same,”
After his address to the court, Counsel to Ecobank, Mr O.A Divine, then began his examination in chief and asked the witness to tell the court his names, occupation and address.
In response, the witness replied: “ My name is Dr Oba Otudeko, I am a businessman, and my place of business is at No 6, Mekuwen St. Ikoyi Lagos,”.
When asked about his professional qualification, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Olabode Olanipekun, raised objection, and pointed out to the court that the proper practice in such proceeding, was for the defence to lead the witness to adopt his written deposition.
He added that the defence cannot embark on a journey of questions, in such proceedings, adding that after adoption, the plaintiff is entitled to cross examination and then re-examination.
In his response, Mr Divine argued that the witness was a subpoened one, and so he is entitled to lead his witness in evidence without hindrance.
In a short ruling, however, the court held that the witness could only be led to adopt his witness statement.
After the court’s ruling, defence counsel, then declined to lead the witness to adopt his statement.
Meanwhile, during cross examination, Olanipekun asked the witness to tell the court:
“Whether the then Managing Director of Ecobank, was in attendance at the plaintiff’s office, on July 23, 2013, when it was agreed that N3.5billion will be full and final settlement of the plaintiff’s debt,”
Before the witness could respond, defence counsel quickly raised an objection.
He argued that having refused to lead the witness in adopting his depositions, and since the statement had not been admitted, the witness cannot answer questions on same.
Justice Idris then adjourned until Feb. 14 to rule on the objection.