N212b Fraud: Court Refuses To Register Foreign Judgment Against Akingbola
A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere area of Lagos Island, today discharged an ex-parte order which ordered the former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, Erastus Akingbola to pay Access Bank £654 million that’s about N212.2bn.
The High Court of Justice, Queens Bench in London, had on August 1, 2012, ordered Mr Akingbola to pay Access Bank the money for some fraudulent practices committed when he was in charge of the defunct Intercontinental bank which was acquired by Access Bank on the 31st of January 2012.
In a bid to enforce the London Court judgment in Nigeria, Access Bank had approached Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of the Lagos High Court with an ex-parte application. In the ex-parte application, the bank sought to register the foreign judgment and the accompanying order of Justice Michael Burton, dated September 13, 2012.
Justice Oyebanji had granted the request of Access Bank by registering the London judgment and ordering Mr Akingbola to pay the judgment sum.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Mr Akingbola, through his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), filed an application before Justice Babajide Candide-Johnson of the same court seeking to quash the registration of the foreign judgment for lack of jurisdiction.
In a ruling on the application today, Justice Candide-Johnson discharged the ex-parte order on the grounds that the subject matter of the London judgment, an unlawful share purchase orchestrated by Intercontinental Bank and Mr Akingbola’s breach of statutory duties as director of the Bank were matters relating to the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which the British judge admitted he relied totally on but which only Nigerian Courts and specifically the Federal High Court could properly exercise jurisdiction.
Justice Candide-Johnson then held that since Federal High Courts alone have exclusive jurisdiction on CAMA related cases, his court could not have entertained the claims leading up to the judgment and consequently could not register same as that would make it a judgment of the court.
The judge, however, refused Mr Akingbola’s application seeking to restrain Access Bank from enforcing the London judgment in any other court.