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Honeywell Vs Ecobank: Defendant refuses to open defence

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Ecobank failed to proceed with its defence when the suit instituted by Honeywell against the bank resumed today the 8th of February, 2018 at the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division, Ikoyi.

Present at the hearing was Dr. Oba Otudeko CFR who appeared as a witness to Ecobank in the suit. In opening Ecobank’s defense, Mr. A. O. Divine, a Counsel from the firm of Kunle Ogunba & Associates – the Counsel to Ecobank attempted to commence his defence by questioning the witness outside of the filed witness statement on oath as against the adoption of same contrary to the rules of the Federal High Court.

The counsel to Honeywell, Bode Olanipekun however objected to this line of question by arguing that Ecobank’s disregard for the procedures of the Federal High Court was wrong as a Witness Statement on oath sworn to by Dr. Otudeko was already before the court. This was simply supposed to have been adopted in commencing its defence.

Upon listening to counsel for both parties, the Honorable Justice Idris ruled that cases are not opened through cross-examination but rather through examination in chief.

His Lordship, Justice Idris, quoted case law to the effect that “counsel’s unpreparedness cannot be tolerated or used as an excuse to delay proceedings”. Consequent to this, the Court directed that Ecobank’s counsel should proceed with the examination in chief.

The matter subsequently took a dramatic turn when counsel to Ecobank, perhaps realizing that his strategy would not work, informed the court that he had no further questions for the witness he had requested the court to invite consequent to which he invited the court to discharge the witness because he no longer wanted him as a witness.

Thereafter, Counsel to Honeywell sought to proceed with the cross examination of the witness, Dr. Oba Otudeko. However, Ecobank’s counsel objected to the cross examination by Bode Olanipekun on the grounds that even though the witness statement was sworn to by the witness, the fact stated therein was not Ecobank’s narrative.

Honeywell’s counsel however said that argument was wrong, as according to him, the only statement on oath before the court was the one filed by Dr. Oba Otudeko and that since Ecobank took the risk of inviting Dr. Oba Otudeko as a witness, the Bank must swim or sink with whichever testimony he gives.

Following the hearing of the arguments from both counsel, his Lordship, Justice Idris adjourned the matter for ruling on Wednesday 14th February 2018.

Otudeko Affirms Respect For The Judiciary And Rule Of Law

As the case continues, Chairman of Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko CFR, has affirmed his respect for the judiciary, the rule of law and the judicial due process in Nigeria.

Otudeko stated this when he appeared this morning before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division to give evidence in the suit instituted by Honeywell against Ecobank (Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1219/2015).

Otudeko’s lawyer, Bode Olanipekun, had informed the court of the readiness of his client to appear on any date to provide evidence that will assist the court in determining the merits of evidence adduced by both parties when the Honeywell vs Ecobank matter (Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1219/2015) came up today (7th February) before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division.

Addressing the court, Otudeko said after his counsel, Bode Olanipekun, informed him of the invitation from the court, he had to cut short his trip to ensure he honoured the invitation.

“This is a first time experience for me, but I am happy to be here as a mark of respect for the courts and my belief in the Judiciary.” Otudeko said.

But, it was observed that instead of opening its defence as expected, Ecobank failed to proceed with its defence. It was observed that instead of opening his case through examination in chief, Counsel to Ecobank, O.A. Divine attempted to overturn the court procedure by attempting to commence his defence by cross-examining Dr. Oba Otudeko.

Counsel to Honeywell, Bode Olanipekun, however raised an objection saying that Ecobank’s disregard for the procedures of the Federal High Court was wrong as a Witness Statement on oath sworn to by Dr. Otudeko was already before the court. This was simply supposed to have been adopted in commencing its defence.

Following the hearing of the arguments from both counsels, his Honour, Justice Idris adjourned the matter for ruling on Wednesday 14th February 2018.