Share Refunds: Arthur Eze Wins Bank At Court of Appeal

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From Godwin Tsa, Abuja.

The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal challenging the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to adjudicate on the suit against MGSL Mortgage Bank filed by Chief Arthur Eze bordering on the recovery of funds.

In a unanimous judgment, a three-member panel of the appellate court dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

Justice Mohammed Danjuma of the Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling of Justice Othman Musa of the High Court of the FCT, in assuming jurisdiction to entertain the suit brought by Chief Eze.

The appellate court agreed with submissions by counsel to Chief Eze, Chief Sabastine Hon, that banking matters fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, but by virtue of the proviso to Section 251(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution, the state High Court is allowed to handle dispute arising from an individual customer and his bank.

Justice Mohammed held that “the Federal High Court, the High Court of the FCT and State High Court are endowed with concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate and resolve dispute arising from banker and customer relationships.

“The facts of the instant case do not have any bearing on the Federal Government to warrant the hearing of the case by the Federal High Court.

“Furthermore, the facts of the case do not relate to the operations and administration of the 1st appellant nor do they relate to the operations of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to necessitate a trial exclusively by the Federal High Court.”

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Chief Arthur Eze had by a written of summons under the undefended list claimed against the Mortgage Bank, the outstanding sum of $1, 361,783.69 nor $1, 917,813.19 respectively upon the refund of N500 million paid either the Intra- Bank Foreign Exchange Market (IFEM) at 305.21 to USD1 or the Bureau de Change exchange rate of N462.03 to USD 1.

The trial court had dismissed the preliminary objections challenging its jurisdiction to entertain the suit on the grounds that being a matter that arose from the operations of the Companies and Allied Matters, only the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

However, in his ruling, Justice Othman Musa assumed jurisdiction to adjudicate on the case because it pertains to refund of funds transfer to the appellants by the respondents.

Dissatisfied, with the ruling, the bank and Dr. Virgy Anolu appealed to the Court of Appeal and urged the court to set aside the ruling of the trial court.

(Sun)

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