A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has upheld the N26 billion debt claimed by Access Bank Plc against the estate of the late Ide Ahaba of Asaba, Chief Sunny Odogwu.
The presiding judge, Justice Daniel Osiagor, on Friday, upheld the bank’s claim while dismissing the preliminary objection filed by the estate of the late Chief Sunny Odogwu, challenging the bank’s claim and court’s jurisdiction.
Justice Osiagor held that a consent judgement had earlier been entered in which parties in the suit agreed on the payment of N12 billion as full and final payment.
The defendants in the preliminary objection had argued that having taking benefit of the consent judgement, the plaintiff can’t turn around and ask the court to set aside same.
However, Access Bank in its claim before the court said the judgement was floored in that it was delivered by a court that lacked jurisdiction to entertain it as at the time it was entered as consent judgement.
The bank through its counsel, Kemi Balogun, SAN, said the matter having been placed at the bossom of the Court of Appeal, the lower court which entered the consent judgement as the judgement of the court is Functus Officio (lacked jurisdiction) and that the only court that has the power to adjudicate on such matter at that level is the appellate court.
Justice Osiagor, while dismissing the objection of the defendants nullified the consent judgement entered by Justice Rilwan Aikawa which sanctioned the consent judgement on the ground that it lacked jurisdiction to grant such order as it is functus officio of the matter as of the time he granted the order.
The judge then affirmed the earlier judgement of justice Saliu Saidu which ordered the defendants to pay its outstanding debt of N26 billion.
Justice Osiagor however ruled that the payment must be less all amount earlier paid to the judgement creditor
The court also awarded a cost of N200,000 against the defendants.
It would be recalled that Access Bank the Chief Odogwu entered into a N26 billion loan agreement when he was alive.
The late businessman wanted to use the facility to build luxury apartments to be known as Le Meridien Grand Towers in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos State.
In line with global best practices, the bank demanded for collateral security.
Odogwu later mortgaged prime properties in Lagos, Abuja, Dubai, and Los Angeles to Access Bank in return for the facility.
After the death of the businessman, the mortgaged properties eventually became a subject of litigation
Trouble started when the estate of the late Chief Odogwu reacted angrily to a move by Access Bank to take over the uncompleted property.