Ecobank seeks to take Zamfara funds over N3.1 billion alleged indebtedness
For an alleged N3.1billion debt, Ecobank Nigeria Limited has prayed Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, Lagos for an order allowing it to take over funds belonging to Zamfara State Government, which is domiciled in United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc.
Ecobank had initiated garnishee proceedings against UBA over an alleged debt owed by the state.
However, UBA, through its counsel, Alfred Uwaka filed a preliminary objection seeking to strike out an order nisi made by Justice Babs Kuewumi.
Uwaka contended that Ecobank failed to obtain the consent of Zamfara’s Attorney-General before initiating the garnishee proceedings.
According to him, failure to comply with the application for consent makes the order null and void.
Counsel to Ecobank, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN), however, urged the court to make the order absolute so that it can take over Zamfara’s funds in UBA.
He said the onus was on UBA to show how much of Zamfara’s funds it had or not, adding that filing a preliminary objection was an admission that the bank indeed has Zamfara’s money.
“I submit that a garnishee who files a notice of preliminary objection contending that no consent of the attorney-general was sought has unwittingly admitted that it has the judgment-debtor’s funds,” Ogunba said.
The senior advocate recalled that in a previous garnishee proceeding, UBA wasted no time in telling the court that Zamfara had no money in its account with the bank.
“If they (UBA) have no money belonging to Zamfara, why file a preliminary objection? The approach they have taken shows that the court was right to have granted an order nisi.
“Based on the procedure adopted by the garnishee, it has shown clearly that it has the funds. The money is there. We’re sure of our facts.
We urge the court to make the order absolute against UBA,” Ogunba said.
Ecobank said the Zamfara’s Executive Council passed a resolution authorising its Finance Ministry to accept a loan, which was not repaid.
In a bid to recover the loan, Ecobank sued the state.
The matter has been adjourned to February 24 for ruling.
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