The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday reserved ruling on key applications brought by Innoson Motors and GTBank in an ongoing dispute over bank transaction charges.
The GTBank sought to amend its notice of appeal against the judgment of the Awka Division of the Federal High Court.
The high court ruled in 2013 that GTBank should pay N4.7 billion to Innoson Motors as restitution for arbitrary charges, a decision the bank challenged to the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal.
In December 2014, the Court of Appeal reportedly asked GTBank to deposit about N6 billion in an interest-yielding account under the supervision of the deputy registrar at the Enugu Division.
GTBank filed a temporary motion for a stay of that decision at the Supreme Court, according to details of the proceeding made available to PREMIUM TIMES by Innoson. As at last week, the money has accumulated to N14 billion, Innoson said.
On June 7, the Supreme Court reportedly asked all parties to return to the Court of Appeal for the substantive trial to be determined before hearing the application on whether or not the order of the Court of Appeal for GTBank to pay funds into an interest-yielding account should be set aside.
When the parties returned to the Court of Appeal for further hearing on the matter June 14, Wole Olanipekun, representing GTBank, sought to amend its motion of notice on the verdict of the Awka Division of the Federal High Court.
This motion was, however, opposed by McCarthy Mbadugha, counsel to Innoson, who insisted that GTBank must first comply with the order of the Court of Appeal asking it to pay funds into an interest-yielding account to be monitored by the court’s registrar.
Mr Mbadugha said since the Supreme Court has returned the case to the Court of Appeal, then it meant that GTBank must first comply with the Court of Appeal’s order before the court could entertain any reliefs from Innoson, according to the court proceedings sent to PREMIUM TIMES by Cornel Osigwe, a spokesperson for Innoson.
Mr Olanipekun did not immediately return PREMIUM TIMES’ calls seeking comments Friday afternoon.
Moreover, Mr Mbadugha said GTBank can no longer amend its motion because it had already transmitted it to the Supreme Court on March 16, 2015 when it filed a temporary application to stay execution on the N6 billion it was asked to pay into an account under the court’s registrar.
The lawyer said based Order 8 Rule 11
of the Supreme Court Rules, 1985 (as amended), once an appeal has been entered at the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal will lack jurisdiction to entertain the appeal before it and any application in the appeal before it.
Mr Mbadugha urged the Court of Appeal to defer to the Supreme Court and transmit all the pending application before it to the Supreme Court rather than allow GTBank to make amendment.
Mr Olanipekun countered the Innoson’s lawyer, saying what is before the Supreme Court is an appeal on an interlocutory application, which is totally different from the substantive suit being argued by the parties.
“A respondent to an appeal does not have the locus standi to ask for a stay of proceedings,” Mr Osigwe quoted Mr Olanipekun as telling the Court of Appeal on Thursday. “The only party that can ask for stay of execution is an appellant who has an appeal,” he argued.
Mr Mbadugha stood his ground, saying the application GTBank filed at the Supreme Court was related to the substantive suit at the Court of Appeal.
The connection is the Court of Appeal order that reportedly asked GTBank to deposit funds in an interest-yielding account pending the outcome of case.
” It is this order about this judgment debt that is subject of the appeal at the Supreme Court,” Mr Mbadugha said.
The lawyer said it would be an abuse of process and a waste of time if the Court of Appeal allowed GTBank’s application for amendment of motion stand.