March 2, 2024

Supreme Court dismisses Ecobank’s Appeal against Honeywell, reproves Counsels for filing Frivolous Application

The Supreme Court on Friday has dismissed all appeals brought before it by Ecobank Limited in the ongoing dispute between the bank and Honeywell Flour MIlls PLC.
In a unanimous decision by the learned justices of the apex Court, it ruled that Ecobank’s applications lacked merit.
Delivering the judgment, the Court reprimanded Ecobank’s lawyers for wasting the Court’s time by filing frivolous appeals, particularly in light of the myriad of critical matters before the apex court.
In addition, the Court cautioned Ecobank’s lawyers against filing such applications in the future, awarding N2.5 million costs against the appellant.
Prior to the Supreme Court rulings, Ecobank had previously suffered defeat in its dispute with Honeywell at the Court of Appeal when the appellate court also ruled against it.
In a unanimous decision delivered by the Court of Appeal on March 30, 2016, the appellate court discharged the exparte injunctive/asset freezing orders obtained by Ecobank against Honeywell.
The Court of Appeal also affirmed the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos to hear the suit filed by Honeywell against Ecobank, whilst ordering accelerated hearing by the trial court.
It was these decisions by the Court of Appeal that Ecobank had challenged at the Supreme Court.
Brief History of the Case

In August 2017, the Court of Appeal holden in Lagos had struck out appeals by Ecobank, against a Federal High Court’s ruling, over alleged indebtedness of Honeywell Plc.

Ecobank had in January, commenced action before the lower court over an alleged N3.5 billion unpaid loan facility by Honeywell.

The Lower Court Judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, had issued an interim order via an exparte application by the bank, restricting Honeywell’s financial transactions.

However, the appellate Court had set aside the exparte orders, describing it as unjudicious.

The bank had then filed a motion for injunctions pending appeal.

Meanwhile, Honeywell in reaction also filed a counter affidavit in response to their motions for injunctions.

At the hearing of the appeal, Counsel to the bank, Mr O. O. Kushimo, informed the court of a notice of withdrawal filed by the bank.

This move was not opposed by Counsel to Honeywell, Mr Bode Olanipekun (SAN)

Consequently, the appellate court presided by Justice Sidi Bage struck out Ecobank’s motion for injunction pending appeal in Suit no: CA/L/1247/2015, dated March 31.

The court also struck out the bank’s motion for stay of proceedings in Suit no: CA/L/1270/2015, dated April 1; and Suit no: CA/L/65/2016, also dated April 1.

The Federal High Court had also on June 27, in a judgement delivered by Justice Jude Dagat, in a related case, struck out the bank’s suit against Honeywell and its sister companies.

Justice Dagat noted that a court faced with a winding up application, must first determine if the petition was brought in good faith.

The Judge had held that the bank’s petition was done in bad faith and had consequently, struck out the suit.

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