Ecobank Nigeria Limited has asked the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign a suit filed against it by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc and its sister companies – Anchorage Leisures Limited and Silaom Global Services Limited – to another judge.
The bank said it no longer had confidence that it would receive a fair justice from Justice Muhammed Idris who is currently handling the case.
In a letter to the CJ by the bank’s Company Secretary/Chief Legal Counsel Denike Laoye and Kehinde Dawodu of its Legal and Regulatory Unit, the bank said various events led it to conclude that the case should be better handled by another judge.
“The bank states unequivocally that it no longer has confidence that it will fairly and dispassionately receive justice in the subject case in light of the various events showing the court’s apparent bias against the bank and its retained firm of solicitors.
“We, therefore, sincerely pray that the subject suit be re-assigned to any other judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos,” the bank wrote.
The bank said while ruling on contempt a contempt charge filed by Honeywell and others, the judge allegedly threatened to the “deal with” the bank when the plaintiffs’ counsel properly invokes the court’s disciplinary jurisdiction.
“In determining the initial committal processes, His Lordship Idris J, went beyond the possibility of innocence or the presumption of innocence as required by law,” the bank said.
The bank said the judge, without hearing from it, held that a ruling delivered on July 1, in which he refused to grant the bank’s application for stay of proceedings, was still pending.
Besides, Ecobank said the judge allegedly refused to countenance its appeal before the Supreme Court and a pending motion for stay of proceedings.
“Our senior counsel informed the court that in deference to the hierarchy of courts, particularly since the issue at hand is jurisdiction, His Lordship ought to adjourn the trial pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the same issue, which appeal is ripe for hearing.
“Despite all these, His Lordship relied on the plaintiff’s sole affidavit and the ruling of 1st July, 2016 to adjourn for definite hearing the subject suit, shutting the bank out from traversing the narration by the plaintiffs’ counsel,” the bank said.