A Magistrate Court in Ogba, Lagos State has sentenced the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, and the Bank Secretary, Ezinwa Unuigboje, to six weeks in prison for disobeying a garnishee order preventing the bank from granting a judgment debtor access to his account.
The Plaintiff, Jibrin Ahmed filed a suit against the defendant Prince Enabulele Ozaze over a N2.8 million payment he made for the purchase of a Toyota Corolla car on October 13, 2022.
The Magistrate Lateef Owolabi ruled in favor of the complainant and handed the sentence in response to a garnishee order he issued on December 6, 2022, requesting that 16 banks deny the judgment debtor, Ozaze, access to his bank accounts pending the payment of monies owed.
The claimant’s lawyer, Alayo Akanbi had filed a garnishe proceeding and attached 17 banks, asking the court to prevent the defendant from drawing money from his accounts with them until the debt was liquidated.
However, on January 25, 2023, the claimant, now a judgment creditor, deposed to an affidavit before the court, demonstrating that Fidelity Bank had violated the garnishee order.
He claimed that as of January 12, 2023, when the garnishe order was served on the bank, the judgment debtor had N3, 165, 759.05k in his account with Fidelity Bank.
Three days after service, on January 15, the judgment debtor had withdrawn N725,547.80k from the account. Another N251,305.90 was transferred out of the bank the following day, January 16, 2023. Obianuju Nwosu, the bank’s legal officer, confirmed service on the bank as of December 22, 2022 and apologized for the transactions on the account on January 17.
On January 18, 2023, the court ordered that the Managing Director and Company Secretary appear in person before the court to explain why they should not be imprisoned for allowing the judgment debtor to disburse funds in his account after the garnishe order nisi was served.
The Managing Director and Company did not appear in court on Monday, February 6, as ordered. The judgment creditor’s lawyer explained to the court how the two had disobeyed the court’s garnishee order.
In his ruling, Magistrate Owolabi sentenced the Managing Director and Company Secretary to six weeks in prison each.
He also directed the Lagos State Commissioner of Police and any officer under his command to arrest the duo and transport them to court for transfer to the appropriate correctional facility.