Magu: FCMB deposits N540m damages awarded to Prophet Omale

Advertisements
Spread the love

 

 

First City Monument Bank has obeyed the order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and deposited the N540 million damages awarded to Prophet Emmanuel Omale into an interest yielding account of the Chief Registrar of the court.

The FCMB paid the money into Premium Trust Bank on February 8, 2024 as directed by the appellate court.

The bank took the step in a bid to prevent contempt proceedings against its Managing Director, Yemisi Edun, for alleged disobedience to court order.

Advertisements

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on February 2, 2024 ordered FCMB to pay the N540 million damages awarded against it by the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja for defaming Omale of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry and his wife, Deborah.

The appellate court also directed the FCMB to pay the money into an interest yielding account of its Chief Registrar within 48 hours of its enrolled order.

The development prompted the lead lawyer to Omale, Chief Gordy Uche (SAN), to write a letter to the lead lawyer to FCMB, Prof. Wale Olawoyin (SAN), informing him that he would not hesitate to initiate contempt proceedings against the Managing Director of the bank if the money is not paid as directed by the appellate court.

Uche’s letter, dated February 2, 2024 reads in part: “Consequently, the conditional stay of execution is hereby granted to the Appellant. The condition being that the judgment sum shall be deposited into an interest yielding bank account of the Court to be opened by the Chief Registrar of this Court within 48 hours of the grant of this Order.

“May we also bring to your knowledge the fact that this conditional stay of execution was a consent order having been consented to by M.S. Hamza Esq. who held your brief for the Appellant.

“WHEREFORE we wish to state that if the said judgment sum of N540,500,000.— (five hundred and forty million, five hundred thousand naira) is not immediately deposited with the Court of Appeal as directed in the enrolled order of Court, we shall commence contempt proceedings against the Managing Director of First City Monument Bank, to commit her to Prison for disobedience to order of Court.”

Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court in Abuja had in a judgment on October 4, 2022 held that the bank recklessly breached the duty of care it owe to the claimants – Omale, his wife and their church – by making false claim that a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, paid N573 million into the church’s account.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the FCMB filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja, asking it to set aside the verdict of the lower court.

But the Court of Appeal in a ruling on February 1, 2024 rejected FCMB’s request for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the determination of its appeal as prayed in a motion on notice it filed.

Instead, a three-member panel presided over by a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Muhammed Shuaibu, granted a conditional stay of the execution of the judgment by ordering the bank to pay the judgment sum of N540 million into an interest yielding account in the name of the court’s Chief Registrar.

In an enrolled copy of the ruling, the appellate court said: “The application is granted as prayed in terms of the first prayer in the appellant’s motion filed on 3/11/2022.

“Consequently, conditional stay of execution of the judgment is hereby granted to the appellant.

“The condition being that the judgment sum shall be deposited into an interest yielding bank account of the court to be opened by the Chief Registrar of this court within 48 hours of the grant of this order.”

The court then adjourned further hearing till a date to be communicated to parties by the court’s Registry.

The conditional stay granted by the Court of Appeal was alternatively conceded by the respondents – Omale, his wife and the church – in their counter affidavit to the appellant’s motion, which they had actually sought to be dismissed.

The October 4 judgment by Justice Halilu was on a defamation suit, marked: FCT/HC/CV2541/2020, and filed by Omale, his wife and the church against the bank.

During the investigation of Magu by the Justice Isa Salami-led presidential investigation panel, it was claimed that an investigation by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit revealed that the retired Assistant Inspector General of Police paid N573 million into Omale’s church’s account with which a property was allegedly bought in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Justice Halilu, in the judgment, noted that evidence before his court showed that the bank admitted error in its report to the NFIU, of entries in the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account.

The judge further noted that the bank claimed that the purported N573 million was wrongly reflected as credit entry in the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account by its reporting system, which it recently upgraded.

Justice Halilu noted that the bank admitted the error, which caused incalculable damage to the reputation of the claimants both within and outside the country.

The judge also held that the claimants provided sufficient evidence to establish a case of negligence against the bank.

Justice Halilu thereafter proceeded to award N200 million as aggravated damages, N140,500,000 as specific damages and N200 million as general damages against FCMB in favour of the Omales.