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Honeywell Vs Ecobank: Bank Refuses To Open Defence, Case Adjourned Till Feb 14

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…as Otudeko affirms respect for judiciary

Ecobank failed to proceed with its defence when the suit instituted by Honeywell against the bank resumed on Thursday at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi.

Present at the hearing was Honeywell’s chairman’s Dr Oba Otudeko, who appeared as a witness to Ecobank in the suit.

In opening Ecobank’s defence, Mr. A. O. Divine, a Counsel from the firm of Kunle Ogunba & Associates, the Counsel to Ecobank, attempted to commence his defence by questioning the witness outside of the filed witness statement on oath as against the adoption of same contrary to the rules of the Federal High Court.

The counsel to Honeywell, Bode Olanipekun however objected to this line of question by arguing that Ecobank’s disregard for the procedures of the Federal High Court was wrong as a Witness Statement on oath sworn to by Otudeko was already before the court. This was simply supposed to have been adopted in commencing its defence.

Upon listening to counsel for both parties, the Honorable Justice Idris ruled that cases are not opened through cross-examination but rather through examination in chief.

Justice Idris quoted case law to the effect that “counsel’s unpreparedness cannot be tolerated or used as an excuse to delay proceedings”.

Consequent to this, the court directed that Ecobank’s counsel should proceed with the examination in chief.

The matter subsequently took a dramatic turn when counsel to Ecobank, perhaps realizing that his strategy would not work, informed the court that he had no further questions for the witness he had requested the court to invite consequent to which he invited the court to discharge the witness because he no longer wanted him as a witness.

Thereafter, Counsel to Honeywell sought to proceed with the cross examination of the witness, Otudeko.

However, Ecobank’s counsel objected to the cross examination by the defence counsel on the grounds that even though the witness statement was sworn to by the witness, the fact stated therein was not Ecobank’s narrative.

Honeywell’s counsel however said that the argument was wrong, as according to him, the only statement on oath before the court was the one filed by Otudeko and that since Ecobank took the risk of inviting Otudeko as a witness, the bank must swim or sink with whichever testimony he gives.

Following the hearing of the arguments from both counsel, his Lordship, Justice Idris adjourned the matter for ruling on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

…Otudeko Affirms Respect for Judiciary, Rule Of Law

Meanwhile, Chairman of Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko has affirmed his respect for the judiciary, the rule of law and the judicial due process in Nigeria.

Otudeko stated this when he appeared Thursday morning before Justice Idris of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court to give evidence in suit No: FHC/L/CS/1219/2015 instituted by Honeywell against Ecobank.

Otudeko’s lawyer, Bode Olanipekun, had informed the court of the readiness of his client to appear on any date to provide evidence that will assist the court in determining the merits of evidence adduced by both parties when the Honeywell vs Ecobank case came up Thursday before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Addressing the court, Otudeko said after his counsel, Bode Olanipekun, informed him of the invitation from the court, he had to cut short his trip to ensure he honoured the invitation.

“This is a first time experience for me, but I am happy to be here as a mark of respect for the courts and my belief in the judiciary,” Otudeko said.

But, it was observed that instead of opening its defence as expected, Ecobank failed to proceed with its defence.

It was observed that instead of opening his case through examination in chief, Counsel to Ecobank, O.A. Divine attempted to overturn the court procedure by attempting to commence his defence by cross-examining Otudeko.

Counsel to Honeywell, Bode Olanipekun, however raised an objection saying that Ecobank’s disregard for the procedures of the Federal High Court was wrong as a Witness Statement on oath sworn to by Dr. Otudeko was already before the court. This was simply supposed to have been adopted in commencing its defence.

Following the hearing of the arguments from both counsels, Justice Idris adjourned the matter for ruling on Wednesday, Feb 14.

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John is a University of Lagos-trained, tech-savvy journalist with an uncanny nose for news. His views are always the end products of a deliberate search for information and knowledge. He has read almost every novel written by Chinua Achebe, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. He is an expert Scrabble and draughts player who is also excellent at swimming. If you know the capitals of 45 African countries by heart, then you are exactly like him.

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