The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has been asked to commence committal proceedings against the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun, and commit her to prison for allegedly flouting orders made by the court.
The request formed the relief in a motion filed by 25 ex-staff of the bank in whose favour the Lagos division of the NICN had given a monetary judgment on July 3, 2019.
The ex-staff, led by John Adeola Taiwo, stated, in the motion filed on December 2, 2019, that Unity Bank was in open disobedience to the orders made by the court on November 12, 2019, and therefore deserved to be committed to prison for allegedly being in disobedience of valid and extant court orders.
The ex-staff had individually sued the bank in 2016 alleging non- payment of some of their outstanding entitlements and gratuity.
The court later consolidated the suits with the consent of parties and on the grounds that the issues were related.
In a judgment on July 3, 2019, in the suit marked: NICN/LA/84/2019, Justice R. H. Gwandu held in favour of the ex-staff and ordered the bank to pay them various sums of money.
But rather than comply with the judgment, the bank appealed and applied to the court for a stay of execution pending the determination of its appeal.
In a ruling on November 12, 2019, Justice Gwandu granted a stay as prayed by the bank but upon certain conditions.
The judge, in the ruling, said: “By the powers vested in this Court under Order 64 Rule 8(3) and in the discretion of this court, I hereby grant the stay of execution of this judgment pending the outcome of the appeal.
“This goes with the condition that the judgment debtor pays the judgment sum into the account of the Chief Registrar, National Industrial Court (an interest yielding account), such judgment sum shall be released to the party that is victorious in the outcome of the appeal.
“The payment of the judgment sum is ordered to be made within five working days, failure of which shall be treated as contempt of orders of this court.
The pronouncements of the judge are what Taiwo and others are now accusing the Unity Bank of flouting and in respect of which they seek the committal of the bank’s CEO in the fresh motion filed on December 2, 2019.
They argued, in court documents, that “the order of the court has been respected by the judgment debtor in the breach rather than observance, in spite of the stern warning by the court that failure to comply shall be treated as contempt.
“It is trite law that the order of a court of competent jurisdiction remains inviolate until set aside and so, anyone who an order is made against must obey it until the order is set aside or discharged. Once an order exists, it must be obeyed.
“It is a clear fact that, in spite of the clear and explicit order of this honourable court, directing the defendant/judgment debtor to pay the judgment sum into the court’s account with the name of the Chief Registrar, the defendant/judgment debtor has continued, with impunity, to do the exact opposite of the order of the court”.
They added that the alleged failure of the bank to pay the judgment sum into an interest yielding account within five days, as directed by the court, “is an outright disregard of the order of this honourable court, making the defendant/judgment debtor liable for contempt of court”.
They added that since the defendant/judgment debtor is not a natural person, the law allows that its principal officer is penalized.
“It is trite law that where the contemnor is not a natural person, it cannot be committed to prison, but the principal officer can.
“In this case, the defendant (a financial institution) is not a natural person, who can be committed for contempt thereby making any of its high ranking officers in the person of Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun, being the Managing Director, liable to be committed to prison for contempt of court.
“We urge this honourable court to grant them leave to proceed against Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun, the Managing Director of the defendant and to find her liable accordingly and commit her to prison for contempt of the order made on 12th November 2019”.
The bank is yet to respond to the fresh motion.
Aregbesola Insists On Digitalisation Of Security Agencies
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said for the country to get things right with the security challenges in Nigeria, digitalization of intelligence gathering and monitoring is the best approach.
He emphasized that the world had gone past the manual process of operation as it is still being done in Nigeria presently.
Responding at the IT Audit Presentation on the Ministry of Interior and its Agencies to the Minister by Mr. Folusho Philips, Chairman of Philips Consult, Aregbesola pledged that he would make sure his Ministry put the necessary efforts and tools in place to ensure maximum capacity building for digitalization in the Ministry and the agencies under his watch.
He said “What distinguished the individual is how he can challenge and overcome situations”. He advised that Nigerian leaders should put in all their best to overcome the security challenges facing the country to distinguish the country to meet world digital standard.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore, mentioned that significant efforts have already commenced to fully digitalize operations in the Ministry.
He stated that the Electronic Data Management System which would ensure digitalization of file records and implementation of the Human Resource Module of the IPPIS are set to take off in the Ministry. He however emphasized the need for more funding to be appropriated to further strengthen the Ministry’s Information Technology backbone.
The presentation identified that the Ministry and its agencies are yet to update in the digital world’s standard and needed to braze up to the world acceptable practices in the quest to curb insecurity and bring peace to the Nation.
The Directors commended the Minister’s initiative and efforts to see that insecurity is a thing of the past in Nigeria.
Present during the presentation are the Permanent Secretary, Directors in the Ministry, representatives of the agencies and the delegation of Philips Consultant.
”Its Not Our Building” Senators Reject Ownership Of Leaky National Assembly Building
Senate President Ahmad Lawan has urged Nigerians to stop bashing the National Assembly management for the parliament’s leaky roof, even as it is being maintained that the building housing the National Assembly belong to the FCTA.
During Tuesday’s downpour, the roof of the White House, where the two chambers of the National Assembly are started leaking, resulting to the lobby being taken over by flood.
Many Nigerians and civic groups described the incident as a national embarrassment.
Reacting to the media reports on the incident, the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, raised a point of order, saying the reports breached the privilege of the lawmakers.
He clarified that the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) was in charge of the maintenance of the complex and not the lawmakers against the belief of many Nigerians.
Abdullahi noted that the N37 billion earmarked for the renovation of the National Assembly complex in the 2020 budget was slashed to N9 billion in the revised one.
He said up till now, nothing has been done.
The Senate President said the roof leakage confirmed the position of the lawmakers that the building was due for renovation.
Lawan said: “The fact that there was a leakage to me is a clear testimony, confirmation and vindication of the position the national assembly took initially.
“Everyone knows that this place is overdue for rehabilitation. We went to see Mr President and he was gracious and he asked us to meet with FCTA, the owners of the building.
“Myself, the speaker, late chief of staff and minister of finance met to look for money for the rehabilitation of the national assembly.
“When the N37 billion was approved, it was not a National Assembly budget, it was an FCDA budget.
“If this place leaks, we are not holding our democracy with the respect it has. We expect the press to inform the people responsibly.
“This house is the house of Nigerians. It belongs to Nigerians and it deserves to be rehabilitated.”
Guest Flees As Hotel Uncovers Murdered Female Companion
The Kwara State Police Command has begun searching for a man who allegedly killed a lady in a hotel in Ilorin, the state capital, about three weeks ago.
The suspect, whom the police identified as Adegboye James of Okelowo Street, Ede, Osun State, was alleged to have murdered the lady whom he brought to the hotel on Adewole Housing Estate, Ilorin, on May 27, 2021.
The police, in a statement signed by the command’s Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, said the address given by the suspect was fake and could not be traced.
He called on members of the public whose daughter or female relation was missing since May 28, 2021, to check the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department for possible identification of the corpse.
The statement read, “On May 28, 2021, around 7.30pm, we responded to a call from one Olalekan Anafi, the supervisor of Premium Diamond Hotel, in the Adewole area of Ilorin that on May 27, 2021, around 2pm, one Adegboye James, lodged at their hotel.
“The said Adegboye James went out and came back with a lady. The said Adegboye James later checked out of the hotel without the knowledge of any of the hotel staff.
“In the morning of the following day when nothing was heard from the room occupied by the said lodger, a spare key was used to open the room and the hotel was confronted by the dead body of the lady.
“Investigation into the incident is already at an advanced stage as ordered by the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, CP Mohammed Bagega, to arrest the lodger whose name and address as reflected in the hotel’s logbook is fake.”
In another development, the Kwara State command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said its operatives are searching for a motorist who allegedly cut off the hand of a seven-year-old Alimanjiri student, Usman Abubakar, of Malam Aliu Adamu School, Patigi, in the Patigi Local Government Area of the state.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the NSCDC, Babawale Afolabi, said the child was allegedly kidnapped together with his schoolmate by the unknown motorist, who promised to take them to where they would eat on Monday night.
Babawale said the suspect, who is now at large with the boy’s hand, later escaped into the bush.
He said the victim lost much blood and was treated at the Patigi General Hospital.
The PRO said the NSCDC had commenced investigation into the incident.
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