By Onyewuchi Ojinnaka
Justice Saliu Saidu of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Nigeria has ordered the Group Managing Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr Kennedy Uzoka and the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Samuel Adikamkwu to appear before him at the next adjourned date and show cause why they should not be committed to prison for contempt.
The duo are ordered to appear before the judge in respect of a contempt proceedings initiated against them by Greenwich Trust Limited.
The firm, which is the judgment/creditor, averred that the alleged contemnors disobeyed a garnishee order absolute made on December 17, 2018, directing them to release funds in their possession.
“It is appropriate for them (alleged contemnors) to be in court despite the pending preliminary objection. I’ll adjourn to allow the alleged contemnors to appear before me.
“They are aware of the proceedings, and that awareness is sufficient for them to be present. Let them come and show their face and respect all of us here,” the judge said.
Justice Saidu had last June 8 delivered a judgment in favour of Greenwich Trust and awarded N347,355,000 with interest to it.
The firm had sued the Zamfara State, its Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, and its Ministry of Finance over the debt for services rendered the state.
On November 27, 2018, Justice Saidu granted an Order Nisi and subsequently made the order absolute on December 17, 2018 compelling UBA to release to the applicant the attached judgment sum in its custody.The company submitted that despite being aware of the order, “the persons cited/alleged contemnors refused/neglected to obey/comply with the lawful order of court still subsising till this very day.”
“The cited persons’ disobedience of the orders of court amounts to contemptuous challenge of the integrity of this honourable court and an attempt to undermine the due administration of justice,” the applicant stated.Consequently, Greenwich Trust sought for “an order committing Kennedy Uzoka and Samuel Adekamkwu to prison for their willful, deliberate and orchestrated disobedience to the garnishee order absolute compelling the release of attached judgment sum which is in the custody of the respondent (UBA).”
The applicant also sought an order that the alleged contemnors “remain in prison and/or protective custody at any of the detaining security agencies or at any designated prison/reformatory in Nigeria’s territorial landscape until they purge themselves of the contempt of this honourable court”.
However,in their preliminary objection, the alleged contemnors said they were not personally served with the contempt application as required by law.
“The Form 48 and 49 as well as the accompanying processes were not personally served on the alleged contemnors as required by law.
“The reliefs contained in the purported Form 49 herein are not grantable, having failed to comply with Order 35 of the Rules of this Honourable court.
“The action of the judgment-creditor in commencing contempt proceedings against the alleged contemnors without serving them with the relevant order of court is in utter breach of their right to fair hearing.
“A person cannot be in contempt of an order of court not served on him. This honourable court has the powers to set aside any process procured otherwise than by strict compliance with the rules of court”.
The judge has adjourned the matter until February 27 for hearing of all applications, including the committal motion and preliminary objection.