By Alex Enebeli
An Enugu State High Court, presided over by Justice Chukwunweike Ogbuabor, on Tuesday adjourned a N4 billion lawsuit against First Bank of Nigeria Plc to Feb. 29 and March 5, for continuation of hearing.
The suit was instituted by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Incorporated Trustees of International Vocational Centre (IVC) and Dr Pedro Manuwa.
The adjournment by Ogbuabor, followed the request by the Counsel to the Plaintiff, Mr Maximus Ugwuoke, to allow him put his house in order.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that when the matter was called up, Ugwuoke informed the Court that the matter was for hearing, adding that they were ready to go on with the case.
While tendering six documents through the Plaintiff representative, Manuwa, to prove his case, Ugwuoke told court the documents were all photocopies, stressing that the plaintiff lost the original copies.
Opposing the plaintiff’s Counsel, Mr Chris Anyanwu, objected it, saying the documents sought to tender were not original or certified true copies.
According to him, the original copies or certified true copies of the documents are what are supposed to be tendered, adding that documents have to be certified before being admissible in law.
He added that the receipt of payment generated from computer by the plaintiff was not from his client but downloaded online and urged court not to admit it.
But Ugwuoke appealed to court to allow him withdraw the documents and requested court for a date to enable him put his house in order.
Anyanwu, angered by the move, however, asked for N500,000 cost from the plaintiff, saying, “My Lord, this case was filed since 2019 and the plaintiff is not aware that documents will be certified only to come this morning to ask for adjournment.
“He should be aware that litigation are expensive and we are asking for a substantial cost of N500,000.”
Ruling, Ogbuabor refused to award cost to the plaintiff and granted his counsel’s request to amend the documents.
He, therefore, adjourned the matter to Feb. 29 and March 5 for continuation of hearing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiff’s former counsel, Mr Chikadibia Anosike, in the statement of claim said that they had in the last five years maintained two accounts with the defendant to wit: 2027073629 (Current Account) and 3091251391 (Savings Account) with the name International Vocational Centre.
They averred that on Feb. 4, 2019, it issued First Bank cheques to several beneficiaries of their education fund but the defendant negligently paid one of the beneficiaries N150, 000 as against N15, 000.
“There have been incidences of negligence by the defendant in handling the plaintiff’s account which had led to several losses, ridicule and untold hardship on the plaintiffs.
“On account of the said over-payment, some of the cheques issued to those beneficiaries were returned unpaid.
“Some person(s) colluded with the defendant and have opened account number 3141684991 with the name International Vocational Centre, Niger State chapter,” he said.
The claimants alleged that such person(s) had been demanding and receiving money from the public and prospective beneficiaries of the scholarship funds, thereby, tarnishing their image.
The lawyer said that the plaintiffs had made complaints to the defendant’s Enugu Branch, demanding for the closure of the said account but every complaint fell on deaf ears.
“Many prospective students have been duped by reason of the said illegal account and the plaintiff’s image has been ridiculed and brought into disrepute globally by the reason of the action,” the plaintiffs claimed.
They also averred that they had continued to lose funds for its developmental projects in Nigeria as their donors had started to withdraw their sponsorship on the wrong perception that the plaintiffs had become a dubious entity. (NAN)www.nannews.ng
Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Vivian Ihechu