An Assistant Director in the Litigation Department of the Lagos State judiciary, Mr. Abdussalam Oluwole, has told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, how his department computed the sum of N352.5m allegedly paid to a Lagos-based lawyer Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams, SAN, as a judgment debt.
The dispute over the sum arose following a contested January 23, 2001, decision of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja Division, delivering judgment in favour of TSA Industries against First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
Testifying before Justice A. Okuwobi in suit No: LD/ 147/2009, Abdussalam, who was summoned by the court to shed light on the matter, said the costs were awarded on different rates and that the calculations were cross-checked by him and his team.
Led in evidence by defence counsel, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, he said: “I did the calculation with my team and the total judgment debts plus interest include, interest (1-3), special damages, cost awarded and actual refunds.”
Abdussalam added that the calculation was based on the original judgment documents or a Certified True Copy.
Under cross-examination by claimants’ counsel, Mr. Chris Eneje, the witness maintained that he based the computation of the interests from the month of June of the same year.
After listening to the submissions of both counsels, Justice Okuwobi adjourned the matter till November 12, 2015 for further hearing.
In 1998, T.S.A. Industries filed a suit before an Ikeja High Court, accusing First Bank of Nigeria Plc. of negligence and allowing fraudulent activities to be carried out on its account domiciled with the bank.
Pursuant to subsequent judgments in the company’s favour, the first generation bank through its head, legal services, Mr. Olaniyi Kukoyi, on March 11, 2008, wrote a petition against Justice Funmilayo Atilade of the Lagos State judiciary, to the chairman, National Judicial Council, NJC, Abuja, alleging judgment racketeering and an attempt to extort a non-existing judgment debt.
Chief Ladi Rotimi -Williams, who was a party in the matter, reacted to the petition by filing suit no: LD/147/2009 against the bank. He was represented by Mr. Eneje in last week’s suit.
However, in its statement of defence, First Bank alleged that in no portion of the judgment with suit no: ID/9/98 was an award made for a sum of N33.6m, but that the claimants had wrongfully included it in the judgment-debt.
It further claimed that although the said judgment awarded interest at the rate of 1% per annum on the sum of N22.3m (ordered to be refunded by the defendant to the judgment-creditor in the said suit) from 31st December, 1996, “the claimants with intent to defraud changed the 1 % actually awarded to some other higher interest per-centrum.”
The bank also claimed that “Although the judgment did not award any interest on the N320m ordered to be paid by the defendant to the judgment-creditor, therein as special damages for loss of profit, the claimants in enforcing for this, had with intent to defraud, accrued interest thereon, first at the rate of 6% per annum and lately at the rate of 21%.”