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Heritage Bank loses N200 mln claims as Appeal Court dismisses its case against customers

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has dismissed an appeal filed by Heritage Bank Plc challenging the judgment of a Lagos Federal High Court, which held that the bank never gave a N200 million facility to one of its customers, as it claimed.

In his judgment in suit number FHC/L/CS/1217/2009, filed by Frontel Nigeria Limited and Samsudeen Owonifari against Heritage Bank, Justice Muslim Sule Hassan (now Justice of the Court of Appeal) held that Heritage Bank did not grant the facility and that no money was collected.

Hassan also ordered the Heritage Bank to reinstate the first respondent’s account with a credit balance of N15, 035, 244.25 million and pay 21 percent interest per annum on the said sum from July 15, 2008, until final liquidation.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Heritage Bank, in its Notice of Appeal marked CA/L/73/2019, urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.

But, in his lead judgment, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya held that the appeal was bereft of any morsel of merit and deserved the reserved penalty of dismissal. The court held that the lower court’s assessment of the documents presented was an immaculate one and that all the diatribes rained against it by Heritage Bank were of no significance.

“I have, in order to pacify the law, given a global/universal examination to the first respondent’s pleading. I am unable to find, even with the prying eagle-eye of an appellate court, where it made a wholesale admission of the indebtedness.

” Perhaps that informed the appellant to base its complaint on the documents by Heritage Bank Plc challenging the judgment of a Lagos Federal High Court, which held that the bank never gave a N200 million facility to one of its customers, as it claimed.

In his judgment in suit number FHC/L/CS/1217/2009, filed by Frontel Nigeria Limited and Alhaji Samsudeen Owonifari against Heritage Bank, Justice Muslim Sule Hassan (now Justice of the Court of Appeal) held that Heritage Bank did not grant the facility and that no money was collected.

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Hassan also ordered the Heritage Bank to reinstate the first respondent’s account with a credit balance of N15, 035, 244.25 million and pay 21 percent interest per annum on the said sum from July 15, 2008, until final liquidation.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Heritage Bank, in its Notice of Appeal marked CA/L/73/2019, urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court. But, in his lead judgment, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya held that the appeal was bereft of any morsel of merit and deserved the reserved penalty of dismissal.

The court held that the lower court’s assessment of the documents presented was an immaculate one and that all the diatribes rained against it by Heritage Bank were of no significance.

“I have, in order to pacify the law, given a global/universal examination to the first respondent’s pleading. I am unable to find, even with the prying eagle-eye of an appellate court, where it made a wholesale admission of the indebtedness. Perhaps that informed the appellant to base its complaint on the documents—especially exhibits D5 and D6, especially the latter.

I have given a microscopic examination to both. They do not harbor any ambiguity. Exhibit D5, dated February 16, 2009, ‘was a written correspondence from the appellant to the first respondent.

“Notwithstanding that the title of the document talks of indebtedness, the body of it made no “reference, even in an infinitesimal measure, to the grant of a credit facility. Nor does it disclose that the indebtedness relates to an amount arising from the controversial credit facility.

He only made a casual allusion to the meeting of February 12, 2009. ” The sum mentioned is not N200 million, the subject of the loan. It is very curious that the document failed to link the alleged indebtedness to the credit facility.

The lacuna is a costly one. The reason is simple. The document does not, in the least, embrace the credit facility in order to apportion liability to the alleged debt of the first respondent.

The glaring absence of direct nexus or correlation between the document and the credit liability constitutes a serious coup de grace to the appellant’s heavy reliance on it and, ipso facto, makes mincemeat of its dazzling argument in support of it.

“Flowing from this expansive tour dhorizon on the evaluation of evidence, done in due allegiance to the law, the lower court’s ultimate finding is an immaculate one. It did not transgress the law to render its faultless finding guilty of the ‘accusation of perfunctory evaluation of evidence hurled against it by the appellant.”

In fact, the allegation is a false one as well as uncharitable and unsustainable. In this way, I, with due deference, dishonor the learned appellant’s counsel’s salivating invitation to sacrifice the finding on the proof of the main claim on the underserved altar of improper evidential evaluation. In the end, I have no option other than to resolve the conflated issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 against the appellant and in favor ‘of the respondents.

“On the ‘whole, having resolved the six issues against the appellant (Heritage Bank), the destiny of the appeal is obvious. It is bereft of any morsel of merit and deserves the reserved penalty of dismissal.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

 

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