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HONEYWELL FLOUR MILLS PLC v. ECOBANK NIGERIA LIMITED

(2018) LPELR-45127(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 13th day of July, 2018

SC.401/2016


Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

JOHN INYANG OKORO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMIRU SANUSI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

HONEYWELL FLOUR MILLS PLC
(RC N0.55495) - Appellant(s)

AND

ECOBANK NIGERIA LTD
(RC N0.89773) - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.
FACTS:
The respondent on 16th of October 2015, filed a Winding Up petition against the appellant before the Federal High Court, Lagos (the trial Court) in Suit No.FHC/L /1569/15 along with a Motion Exparte.

On the 27th of October, 2015 and in a well considered ruling, the trial Court refused to grant the orders, instead the trial judge directed the respondent to put the appellant on notice and adjourned the proceeding to a later date.

The learned counsel for the appellant stated that as a result of unsuccessful efforts to obtain the Ex parte orders against the appellant, the petitioner re-presented the application before Justice J. Tsoho who as well refused to grant the Ex parte orders and presented them to the Registry of the same as designated as NO. FHC/L/CP/1689/2015. On the 18th November, 2015, Justice Yunusa of the same Court granted the Ex parte orders which had earlier been expressly declined by Justice Tsoho.

The facts leading to the institution of the appeal is that, in satisfaction of the liabilities arising out of bank/customer relationship between the appellant and the respondent, both parties agreed that the sum of N3.5 Billion be paid as full and final liquidation of the said indebtedness. After the payment of the sum was completed in January, 2014, the respondent still communicated to the appellant that it was indebted to it, despite the payment of N3.5 Billion, advancing various reasons.

In reaction, the appellant commenced Dispute resolution Proceedings before the Bankers' Committee which comprises the CBN, and a representative from both parties. The Committee reached a decision in favour of the appellant to the effect that the agreement to pay the sum of N3.5 Billion in full and final liquidation of the appellant, was valid and that those payments discharged those obligations. It was stated that it was after the respondent's insistence that the appellant was still indebted to it and the respondent's refusal to abide by the Bankers Committee's decision and the refusal to release all securities used as a collaboration that led to the commencement of Suit No. FHC/L/1219/15 for the determination that the appellant was no longer indebted to the respondent, among other prayers.

The learned appellant's counsel stated further that the respondent filed Suit No. FHC/1219/15 on the 6/10/15 contending that the FHC did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute between it and the appellant and that it is only the State High Court that could adjudicate in the dispute being a matter of simple contract between them. While that and the ruling on the issue of jurisdiction were both pending, the respondent yet commenced Winding Up proceedings at the FHC on the same facts as those on which issues had been joined in Suit No.FHC/L/1219/2015. He stated that in view of the fact the Winding Up petition before Yunusa, J., was abusive of the one filed before Tsoho J., all of the same FHC, the appellant filed an application dated November 23rd, 2015 requesting the discharge of the Ex parte order granted by Yunusa J. The trial Court, (coram Yunusa J.) heard the Appellant's application but failed to discharge the Ex parte orders.

On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Ex parte orders were discharged and the Court struck out some grounds of appeal before it, on the basis that leave to appeal was required in respect of the said grounds even though the appeal was in respect of grant of injunction by the trial Court. It was on this premise that the appellant presented an appeal against the said portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The apex Court determined the appeal on the Appellant's issue two as follows:
Whether the lower Court was not in grave error and also acted in breach of appellant's right to fair hearing, when it refused to consider and pronounce on diverse fundamental issues validly raised before it by the appellant.

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the appeal succeeded and was allowed. Consequently, the Supreme Court ordered that the case be remitted to the Court of Appeal for the consideration of the issues not pronounced upon.


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