By Michael Ojo
A Federal High Court in Lagos has struck out a suit by the Muhammad Shitta-Bey family of Lagos seeking to recover a N1,275,351,167 billion judgment debt from Great Nigeria Insurance Plc, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and four other banks.
The four banks are: Wema Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and Polaris Bank Plc, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/180/2020.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo on Wednesday, April 30, found no evidence that judgment debtor/applicant Great Nigeria Insurance and the five other garnishees owed the Shitta-Bey family the sum as judgment debt.
The family, represented by 11 members on February 25, 2020, approached the court claiming that the sum was debt due and owed to them by the Great Nigeria Insurance Plc following a consent judgment.
It secured a garnishee order nisi attaching the sum domiciled in the garnishee banks.
The court directed the garnishing banks to show cause why the order should not be made absolute against them.
The insurance firm and the banks filed a March 6 Motion on Notice praying the court to dismiss the suit for being an abuse of court process and to set aside the garnishee order nisi.
They contended that the family concealed and/or misrepresented material facts in securing the garnishee order and that it applied for the order, while also enforcing the same judgment at the High Court of Lagos State.
Upholding the insurance firm and banks’ argument, Justice Oguntoyinbo held: “I have carefully considered the said paragraphs of the consent judgment. I cannot find any amount of money mentioned in the said paragraphs of the consent judgment.
“What is mentioned therein is that the Judgment Creditors shall be entitled to 40% / 45% of the Gross Annual Income derived by the Judgment Debtor/Applicant from the demised property less some charges…
“Since this Court has already made an order attaching the said sums in the hands of the Garnishees Banks, it seems to me that the proper order to make in the circumstances is to discharge the said order nisi made by this Court.
“I, therefore, hold that the order nisi made on the 25th day of February 2020, attaching the sum of N1,275, 351,167.00 in the hands of the Garnishee Banks is hereby discharged, and these garnishee proceedings is accordingly struck out.”
The Shitta-Bey family’s representatives are: Mrs Tawa Akinleye, Nusirat Olushola Shitta-Bey, Mrs Ganiyat Adedeji, Alhaji Risikat Bolanle Adetutu, Alhaji Ganiat Are, Alhaji Lateef Baruwa Shitta-Bey, Mrs Ajike Bright Oridami, Mr Yakub Olanrewaju Jawando, Pastor Jamiu John Shitta-Bey, Alhaji Shakirudeen Tyson, Alhaji Tajudeen Oluwo (Suing for themselves and on behalf of the Estate of Muhammad Shitta-Bey).