By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Group under the umbrella of Eleme petrochemicals co-operation Investment and credit society has issued First Bank Nigeria Plc 48hrs utimmatum to Obey Court Order or dragged to court for fragrantly disobeying court order.
The lawyer for Eleme Petro- Chemical co-operative Investment and Credit society , Ibrahim Atadoga ( SAN) stated this as the position of the law as it regards to restriction on customers account in the letter addressed to the First Bank.
The SAN sited the case of Union Bank PLC vs N.M Okpara Chimaeze (2014) 9 NWLR (PT.1411) page 166, as per Ariwoola JSC, adding that supreme Court held that “It is the duty of banker to it’s customer to honor and pay cheques drawn on it by the customer as long as it has in its possession at the material time sufficient and available funds for the purpose”.
He reminded the bank that filling of an appeal does not operate as stay of execution and as such anything done contrary to the order of the lower court is infrigement of the customers right.
Recall that first Bank despite the order of Justice N.E Maha of the federal high court Abuja on the 15th day of February 2021, vacating the interim restriction on the co-operative account by EFCC, has refused to Obey same.
He further recalled that in February 26 2009, the federal government through the National Council on Privatization had approved the sale of 10% of its equity shares in Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals ltd, Port Harcourt ,Rivers State to the host community and interested staff of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals ltd.
“The 10% equity shares was shared as 7.5% was allotted to the host community while the remaining 2.5% was allotted to the Staff of Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals.
“Interested Staff came together under Eleme petrochemical co-operatives in compliance to the federal government directive that a special purpose vehicle be formed where all members will belong to enable them buy the shares”, he stated
Problem, he stated, began in 2013 when 10 staffs who initially subscribed to the purchase of the 2.5 equity shares had their jobs terminated from the employment of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals.
Indoroma Petrochemicals since then began a legal battle as to whether the laid off staff can continue to enjoy the dividends since they were not longer staff in the company and in so doing seeks to replace laid off staff with new recruited staff.
“When the shareholding became an issue the laid of staff approached the River State Ministry of Commerce and Industry to arbitrate between it and the cooperative, the Ministry gave an Arbitral Award in favor of the laid off staff and consequently the exited staffs of the co-operative ,approached the federal high court to enforce the arbitral award and as required by law it was granted and the award became a judgment of the Federal High Court.
“The newly recruited staff been instigated by their employers Indoroma Eleme Petrochemicals Company limited approached The National Industrial court stating that the arbitral award was illegally procured ,when the right thing to do was to appeal the Federal High Court judgement, the industrial court in striking the case out stated that it can not sit on an appeal over a matter that has been decided by a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction. The newly recruited staff have filed an Appeal over the decision of the Industrial court.
“It is to be noted that the EFCC started to investigate the ownership of the shares of the cooperative after the cases at the Federal high court and the Industrial Court had been decided.
“The cases pending in various Courts over the ownership of the shares of Indorama was triggered by the BPE which was a party sued in case at the Industrial court, when it petitioned the EFCC over the matter at the instigation of the newly recruited staff of the Indorama and Indorama itself. End