Odogwu’s Estate appeals court’s verdict on alleged N26b debt
Seeks stay of execution
The family of the late Ide Ahaba of Asaba, Chief Sunny Odogwu, has filed an appeal against the judgment of Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Lagos Federal High Court, Lagos, which upheld N26 billion debt claimed by Access Bank against the late Odogwu’s estate.
Justice Osiagor had on Friday 5, 2022, upheld the N26 billion debt claimed by the Bank, while dismissing the preliminary objection filed by the Estate, challenging the bank’s claim and court’s jurisdiction.
The judge held that a consent judgment had earlier been entered in which parties in the suit agreed on the payment of N12 billion as full and final payment.
The defendants in the preliminary objection had argued that having taken advantage of the consent judgment, the plaintiff can’t turn around and ask the court to set aside same.
However, Access Bank through its counsel, Kemi Balogun (SAN) claimed that the judgment was floored in that it was delivered by a court that lacked jurisdiction, as at the time it was entered as consent judgment.
Balogun contended that the matter having been placed at the bosom of the Court of Appeal, the lower court, which entered the consent judgment as the verdict of the court is functus officio (lacked jurisdiction) and that the only court that has the power to adjudicate on such matter at that level is the appellate court.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), on behalf of Odogwu’s family, Robert Dyson & Diket Limited and Sio Properties Limited, defendants in the suit, filed a 14-ground notice of appeal.
In the notice of appeal filed on August 9, the defendants contended that the learned trial judge erred in law when he assumed jurisdiction over the action after making findings of fact that the sole objective of the suit was to challenge the validity and set aside a consent judgment of the Federal High Court in suit no: FHC/L/CS/156/17-Robert Dyson & Dike Limited &2 Ors v. Daimond Bank Plc.
The appellant said such decision occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
According to the family, the trial judge also erred in law and occasioned grave injustice to the appellants when he set aside the consent judgment entered by a court of coordinate jurisdiction and issued execution orders, reviving a compromised judgment.
The appellant said such amounts to rewriting the contract between the parties and rendering the settlement agreement entered into by the appellants and the respondent meaningless.
The defendants contended that the Federal High Court Act requires the court to encourage settlement and amicable resolution of disputes, an obligation which the trial court ignored.
The trial court, they contended, ignored the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court’s restatement that the court should not write contracts for the parties or rewrite their contract.
Also, the appellant argued that the learned trial judge misdirected himself when he held that the action filed before the lower court disclosed a reasonable cause of action against the appellants on the basis that it is evident that some unascertained amount was due to the respondent from the appellant and remained outstanding when the issue before the court relates to the validity or otherwise of a settlement agreement freely entered by the parties and the consent judgment based on the settlement agreement.
The family also filed a motion on notice, urging for an order for a stay, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal against the said judgment.