The Supreme Court has granted the Nigeria Customs Service Board’s application to challenge the February 6, 2014 judgment of the Court of Appeal that affirmed an N2,048,737,443.57 judgment debt in favour of Innoson Nigeria Limited.
A five-man panel of the court, in a unanimous ruling, upheld the prayers of Customs – the applicant – canvassed through its counsel Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), by a Motion on Notice filed on November 9, 2020.
The panel comprised Justices Olukayode Ariwoola, John Inyang Okoro, Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Abdu Aboki and Tijani Abubakar.
Justice Aboki, who read the panel’s decision on January 14th, 2022, agreed with the lead ruling of Justice Abubakar, that Customs’ argument was meritorious.
The court held: “Having granted the application, therefore, the following orders are hereby made:
“1. Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to appeal as an interested party against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division in appeal number CA/1/258/2011.
“II. Time is extended to the applicant to seek for leave to appeal against the judgment of the court of appeal on grounds of mixed law and facts.
“III. Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to appeal against the judgment of the court of appeal, Ibadan division, on grounds of mixed law and facts.
“IV. Time is extended to the applicant within which to appeal against the judgment of the court of appeal, Ibadan Division in suit No. CA/1/258/2011.
“V. Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to raise new points in this appeal.
“VI. Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to adduce new evidence.
“VII. Applicant shall file its Notice of Appeal within thirty days from today.
“Parties shall bear their respective costs.”
The 1st respondent – GTBank – was represented by Chief Aribisala, SAN, while 2nd respondent – Innoson – was represented by Prof J.N.M. Mbadugha.
The appeal, marked SC.816/2020, arose from a May 18, 2010 judgment of the Federal High Court, Ibadan in Suit No: FHC/I/CS/603/2006: (1) Innoson Nigeria Limited V. Nigerian Customs Service Board and (2) Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) in which the sum of N700,220,000 was awarded against the Defendants and in favour of the Plaintiff,Innoson, with interest at the rate of 22% per annum from the date of commencement of the action and 22% per annum until the final liquidation of the judgment debt.
On 12th January 2011, Innoson wrote to the AGF, who directed that the entirety of the judgment sum, (which at that time stood at One Billion, Eight Hundred and Eighty One Million, Two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty One Naira, Seventeen Kobo), be paid Innoson.
The Applicant (Customs) paid to Innoson, the sum of N700, 220,000, leaving an outstanding of One Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty Five Million, One Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Fourteen Naira, Ninety-Seven Kobo.
Following an application by Innoson, the Federal High Court Ibadan, on July 29, 2011 made a garnishee order absolute against three Banks, for the sum of N2,048,737,443.57.
One of the banks appealed the decision of the Garnishee proceedings to the Court of Appeal, Ibadan. According to the Customs, the bank withdrew its appeal against Customs and the AGF, whereupon their names were struck out of the appeal, and subsequently, no processes were served on Customs by reason of the withdrawal.
But the Court of Appeal affirmed the garnishee absolute of the Trial Court and ordered that the sum of N2, 048,737,443.67 be released from the Customs’ account in satisfaction of the judgment debt.
Customs averred that Innoson failed to inform the Court of Appeal that consequent upon negotiations between it, Innoson and the AGF, Customs remitted N700, 220,000.00 into Innoson’s account with MAINSTREET BANK on 28th November, 2011, before the Court of Appeal affirmed the Order of the Trial Court.
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