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Court dismisses N22m suit against billionaire businessman, five banks

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Justice Irene Ndigwe of the Anambra State High Court, Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area, has dismissed a N22 million suit filed by Al-Kama Commodity Exchange (Nig) Plc against Premier Breweries Nigeria Plc, its major shareholder, Prince Arthur Eze and five commercial banks. 

The plaintiff/judgment creditor, Al-Kama Commodity Exchange (Nig) Plc had in the said suit, asked the court to freeze the account of Premier Breweries Nig. Plc with Sterling Bank, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, Diamond Bank and First Bank because the Eze, who has the highest share in Premier Breweries is owing Al-Kama a total sum of N22, 376,104.82 realized from business transactions.

In addition, the applicant had asked the court to direct the banks to pay it from the account of Eze’s Premier Breweries Nigeria Plc, the sum of N22, 376,104.82 being sum owed the plaintiff/judgment creditor for alleged supply of raw materials to the company.

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But in a judgment, Justice Ndigwe observed that after thorough evaluation of the arguments canvassed by both parties, the court has to uphold the submissions of counsel to Premier Breweries Plc, the defendant/judgment debtor, Dr. Anthony Orunkoya

In the ruling, the trial Judge declared that the court will competently assume proper jurisdiction to adjudicate only when proper parties are before the court as was held in the case of Okonta v Philips (2011) All FWLR (pt 568) 977 SC at 980 – 981 

The judge pointed out that if the enabling law provides name for a juristic or legal personality, a party must sue or be sued in that name.

He further held that the court is under a duty to determine whether the relief sought in a Garnishee proceeding is the same with the award contained in the judgment sought to be enforced and where there is variance with award of the judgment sought to be enforced with the reliefs in the Garnishee, most particularly the amount, the court is under a duty to refuse the application. 

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Accordingly, Justice Ndigwe dismissed the suit and discharged the defendant/judgment debtor, alongside all the five commercial banks. 

Earlier in his submissions, counsel to the plaintiff/judgment creditor, Prof. T. C. Eze had argued that judgment for the said sum was entered against Premier Breweries Nigeria Plc in 2006, adding that interest has accrued on the said judgment till date.  

But Orunkoya in opposition argued that the application made under the Garnishee proceeding to enforce the said judgment of 2006 was statute barred considering the provisions of Section 20 (4) of the Limitation of Actions law of Anambra State. 

Orunkoya argued that action to enforce judgment should have been instituted within 12 years, while action to enforce interest on any sum must be instituted within six years, but pointed out that the plaintiff/ judgment creditor’s action was brought 13 years after the period stipulated by law. 

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