The N3.5 billion debt dispute between Honeywell and Ecobank took a new turn recently when the Supreme Court dismissed all three appeals filed by Ecobank against Honeywell for lack of merit.
In a unanimous decision by the judges of the apex court, the court ruled that Ecobank’s appeals were frivolous.
The court of appeal on 30th March 2016 had issued rulings against Ecobank, which the bank thereafter appealed at the Supreme Court.
In a court document made available to business a.m. the first appeal labelled suit No. SC/402/2016, Ecobank appealed the decision of the court of appeal discharging the exparte injunctive/asset freezing orders,which it had obtained against Honeywell.
The second suit No. SC/406/2016, Ecobank appealed the decision of the court of appeal, which had affirmed the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to hear the suit filed by Honeywell companies.
The court of appeal had also ordered the accelerated hearing of the suit at the Federal High Court and Ecobank also challenged this ruling at the Supreme Court. The third suit No. SC/407/2016., Ecobank appealed the ruling of the Court of Appeal striking out, rather than dismissing, the contempt proceedings filed by Honeywell.
In delivering judgment, the Justices of the Supreme Court reprimanded Ecobank for wasting the court’s time by filing appeals which it described as frivolous, particularly in light of the myriad of critical matters before the apex court. The Supreme Court also advised Ecobank’s lawyers against filing such applications in the future.
The court finally awarded costs totalling N2, 500,000 against Ecobank and also affirmed the directive for accelerated hearing at the Federal High court as earlier issued by the Court of Appeal.
Honeywell had earlier filed a suit seeking a declaratory order to the effect that Honeywell is no longer indebted to Ecobank.
In its application before the Federal High Court, Honeywell averred that its payment of the sum of N3.5 billion was full and final settlement of its obligations to the bank; a position which was affirmed in an earlier ruling by the Bankers’ Committee which sought to resolve the matter initially.