Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has said that it has lodged an appeal against the judgment of an Abuja High Court directing it to pay one of its customers, Dr. Ted Edwards, a sum of N5.2bn.
The bank, through its lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), is contending that the trial judge, Justice Valentine Ashi, erred in law when he assumed jurisdiction over the case and held the bank liable for breaching a banker-customer relationship and entered judgment against it.
Justice Ashi had, in a judgment on May 18, 2015, ruled in favour of Edwards, who had sued over unauthorized withdrawal of N5.2bn from his GTB account, which the bank claimed it transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria at the instruction of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The judge, who dismissed argument by GTB that it acted in obedience to higher authorities, had ordered GTB to refund the N5.2bn into Edwards’ Zenith Bank account with 10 per cent post-judgment interest and another 21 per cent interest from December 12, 2014 when the withdrawal was done till final repayment.
However, GTB which is displeased with Ashi’s judgment, has gone before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal seeking to upturn the lower court’s decision.
Apart from seeking an order of the court staying the execution of Ashi’s judgment, GTB is also praying the appellate court to order the return of the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory for re-assignment to another judge for retrial.
Idigbe, who is contending that Ashi erred in law when he adjudged that Edwards had the no locus standi to institute the suit, wants the appellate court to declare the entire proceedings before the lower court as null and void.
The senior lawyer is also challenging the pronouncement of the lower court that GTB failed to disclose as prima facie case in its defence.
According to Idigbe, Order 21 Rule 3 of the Federal Capital Territory High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2004 stated that where the defendant discloses a defence on the merit to a suit filed under undefended list procedure, leave should be granted to the defendant to file its defence.
He stressed that the court failed to properly evaluate the affidavit evidence placed before it before reaching the conclusion that the appellant’s notice of intention to defend discloses no defence on the merit of the first respondent’s suit.
Furthermore, the bank, which claims that Edward’s funds remained in the custody of the CBN, is also challenging the propriety of the judge’s decision to strike out the other five defendants in the suit while holding it singularly responsible for the judgment debt. [myad]