Industrial Court Dismisses Heritage Bank’s Application for Stay of Execution, Awards N15m Compensation in favour of Shehu Mudi & 658 Others

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The Abuja Vacation Judge of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe has dismissed the application filed by Heritage Bank Plc against the judgment creditors, Mr. Shehu Mudi & 658 others over the judgment debtor, Adamawa State Government and 3 others in its entirety for lacking merit.

Justice Arowosegbe held that the Heritage Bank’s argument and the invitation extended to the Court to overrule the Court of Appeal decision affirming the order absolute in an unmistakable fashion is vexatious and total abuse of process.

The Court awarded the sum of N15Million [Fifteen Million Naira Only] against Heritage Bank, and in favour of Mr. Shehu Mudi & 658 others as compensation for harassment by vexatious applications to delay the consummation of the order absolute and the mental and psychological tortures, which they had been made to suffer since 2018 when the judgment was delivered in their favour and yet not obeyed till date, in spite of the Court of Appeal decision more than a year ago that the order absolute be complied with within three days.

From facts, the garnishee order absolute in issue was made on 14th December 2021 in the sum of N649,442,923.49K. The applicant- Heritage Bank appealed it and, the Court of Appeal [COA] dismissed the appeal on 11th March 2022.

The applicant appealed the decision of the COA to the Supreme Court [SC] on 16th March 2023 and, filed a motion for stay of execution and to restrain the judgment creditors from executing or enforcing the order absolute issued on 24th January 2023, until the determination of these countless numbers of processes, filed against the order absolute.

The Heritage Bank argued that it had even complied with the order absolute, by paying the sum in the account garnished, as at the date of the order nisi by which the account was attached.

In opposition, the judgment creditors- Mr. Shehu Mudi & 658 others averred that Heritage Bank had flatly refused to comply fully with the order absolute, even as the Court of Appeal had ordered it to comply that, the processes filed by the bank amounted to contempt and abuse of process and urged the Court to dismiss the application.

Delivering the ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe affirmed that the order absolute made was to the tune of N649,442,923.49K [Six Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Four Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Three Naira, Forty-Nine Kobo] and Exhibit showed clearly that Heritage Bank purported compliance was only to the tune of N34,928.38K [Thirty-Four Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Eight Naira, Thirty-Eight Kobo] and another N1Mllion as cost which is tantamount to total non-compliance.

The Court held that the Heritage Bank has no vires to review the decisions of the courts; that the Court of Appeal is the final court on the civil decisions of the Industrial Court and the further appeals on the final and absolute decision of the COA is pure abuse of process.

Justice Arowosegbe held that all the applications filed by Heritage Bank are frivolous and filed with the sole aim of turning the courts into an ass to make sure their processes are used to defeat the rule of law and negate the sanctity of the courts and their orders that no reasonable institution would allow such self-immolation.

“I award the sum of N15Million [Fifteen Million Naira Only] as dissuasive compensation against the applicant and, in favour of the judgment creditors [Shehu Mudi & 658 Ors], as compensation for the inhuman treatment meted out to the judgment creditors in the instant scenario. This would teach the applicant some lessons on the need to promptly obey courts’ decisions, especially where there is no further right of appeal and on the need to desist from filing frivolous processes in abuse of process to stall the execution of judgments, which is a clear violation of S. 287 of the Constitution and shows that, the applicant has no iota of respect for the Constitution of Nigeria.”