Did an Ikeja Special Offences Court accuse Zenith Bank Plc of bribing both the judges and lawyers for 11 years to pervert justice?
Several online media outlets have made publications alleging that Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe made the claim on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 while delivering judgment in a suit marked LD/ADR/186/2014 between Real Integrated and Hospitality Limited as claimant and Zenith Bank Plc and State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) as first and second defendants respectively.
One such publication quotes the judge as saying “My recommendation is that Zenith Bank is a fraud and people must be very careful in their dealings with the bank.”
Some of the other quotes read: “Zenith Bank bribed the lawyers in the matter.
“This they have done for 11 years. So many lawyers and judges have been bribed in this matter just perverting justice. What is more embarrassing, the current governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele was the one who came to navigate and begged for the deposit. He has not been able to do anything to Zenith Bank because he was the managing director of the bank at the time of this transaction.”
However, nowhere in the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment seen by our correspondent did the judge make such statements.
While Justice Abike-Fadipe did make a scathing criticism of the bank, she did not accuse Zenith of bribing judges and lawyers for 11 years to fraudulently alter the course of justice, as claimed by the online mediums.
There was also no mention of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele in the CTC of the judgment.
The judge’s comments, as contained in the judgement, include: “The 1st defendant has been the beneficiary of the malevolent game of chess it plunged both claimant and the 2nd defendant into, holding the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest thereon from 17th February 2011 until 2nd February 2016 when the Court ordered that the money be paid into an interest yielding account in the names of the claimant and the 2nd defendant pending determination of the suit, which order was curiously varied by the consent of all the parties on 20th September 2016 so that the money remained in the 1st defendant’s custody without interest.
“The act of the 1st defendant was unconscionable and detrimental to the goodwill of the claimant and its trade credit with its customers. It was a deliberate and malicious act against the interest of the claimant and the 1st defendant continues to enjoy the largesse in bad faith. Exhibits C4 and C5 clearly state that the funds to be transferred were to offset part of the claimant’s indebtedness for the importation of dictionaries, but the 1st defendant was impervious to this need. I therefore find and hold that the claimant is entitled to substantial damages against the 1st defendant for the injury caused to it.”
The judge made the comments while granting the claimants four reliefs.
The reliefs are that the 1st defendant (Zenith) was in breach of contract when on 7th October, 2011 it refused the claimant to draw from its account No. 1012465427 “despite the fact that the said account was in enough credit to cover the withdrawals sought to be made on the said date.”
The judge further restrained the bank “from disturbing or refusing the claimant from operating its account No. 1012465427 in the 1st defendant’s bank or from honouring the claimant’s transfer or payment obligations to third parties from the said account as long as same is in credit.”
It granted an “interest of 15% per annum on the sum of N872,780,552.84 from 7th October 2011 when the 1st defendant denied the claimant access to the funds in its account which was in credit at that date till judgment.
“Interest on the judgment sum at the rate of 10% per annum from judgment date till final liquidation thereof.
“Costs of this action in the sum of N2.5million.”