A judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Angela Otaluka has been accused of allegedly perverting justice in favour of one of Nigeria’s biggest banks, Zenith Bank against an indigenous company, Owigs and Obigs in a deal worth about N23.2 billion.
Aggrieved, Owigs and Obigs approached the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory for adjudication and to ask for damages for the huge losses it suffered, believing that the judiciary was the last hope of the common man.
Their hope for speedy and judicious adjudication however vanished into the thin air due to alleged conspiracy between Justice Angela Otaluka, who sat on the case in the Lugbe area of the FC and Zenith Bank.
In order to bury justice, based on the Certified True Copy of the Appellants Brief Of Argument available to Paparazzi, and to achieve miscarriage of justice, the judge was alleged to have desecrated the Universal Governing Rules of Trade Customs And Practice (UCP) by allegedly altering them in favour of Zenith Bank Plc in a legal sharp practice, allegedly to save the neck of Zenith bank to the detriment of Federal Government and jeopardized the collective interest of Nigeria and its people.
The judge, according to court documents, relied on the apparently forged UCP Rules to occasion miscarriage of justice and in the process defamed a global body, when she allegedly swapped the breach by Zenith Bank.
It is even very curious to many informed and conscientious Nigerians that alleged legal malpractice was carried out even when the global body defamed was not a party to the contract between Zenith Bank and Owigs and Obigs.
Accordinng to investigations, the said global body has warned that it will drag the FCT High Court to the International Court for alleged defamation in a fraudulent judgment which was published in an international magazine and has caused her the loss of a contract worth of USD1.5 billion in Eastern Europe.
The group also threatened to sue the Federal Government for fraud, forgeries, criminal misrepresentation of international trade protocol and criminal alteration of the Universal Governing Rules of international transactions for which Nigeria is a signatory, to occasion miscarriage of justice in a fraudulent judgment to defraud a global body which has damaged its global reputation, causing her to suffer losses amounting to billions of dollars as consequences.
According to the Brief of Argument filed by Owigs and Obigs after Justice Otaluka dismissed its suit against Zenith Bank, the appellant clearly stated that the presiding judge, Justice Otaluka re-wrote an international contract for the parties by substituting a non-partner who wasn’t part of the agreement with the real partner, Obigs and Owigs, removed the liabilities of the legitimate party to a non-party contrary to procedure and protocol upheld by a treaty to which Nigeria is a signatory.
The company further claimed that Justice Otaluka, held that Eglone Group Asia PTE Ltd, an international broker, which was not part of the sellers company or the buyers company, as the defaulting entity in the refusal of Zenith Bank to confirm the Letters of Credit and breach of contract without any evidence to that effect before the court.
Obigs and Owigs has taken the matter to the Appeal Court.
The trial judge is alleged to have jettisoned laid down procedure regulating international contracts financed by Letters of Credit in violation of the precedents created by the Honourable Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria in similar situations, thereby bringing the Nigerian judiciary into international mockery, subjecting the nation to threatened international sanctions for breach of protocol of international treaty and causing the appellant loss of revenue in penalty and loss of ascertained profitability in millions of dollars; thereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice, Owigs and Obigs claimed in its Notice of Appeal.
Continuing, the company said in the Notice of Appeal filed by its counsel, Idris Abdulatif from the law firm of K.T. Turaki and Co, that despite the refusal or inability of Zenith Bank to produce any documentary evidence to back its claims, Justice Otaluka went ahead to give it judgement, absolving Zenith Bank from any blame.
This, according to the company, the judge did despite an admission by the bank in its final address that it was indeed the receiving and confirming bank for the ill-fated contract.
Owigs and Obigs also contended that despite several demands for the production of different crucial documentary evidences in the custody of Zenith Bank, in the course of the trial, the bank refused to produce same and the judge, without reprimand and without taking judicial notice of the blatant refusal, gave the bank a favourable judgement.
The company further stated that the action of both Zenith Bank and Justice Otaluka had made the international community to write letters of condemnation to Nigerias apex bank, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, thereby causing embarrassment for the countrys judiciary.
According to court papers, Justice Otaluka also curiously upheld the deduction of over $4,486.04 the bank removed from the companys account without the knowledge and authorization of the company to pay for a penalty the bank should have ordinarily paid from its pocket.
In all of these, there are certain questions that are seriously begging for answers since it is an affront to common sense and a mockery of judicial process that in the breach of contract, a non-party was held responsible for the breach of duty in a contract it was not a party to while the non-defaulting party was held liable for the damages of the breach occasioned by the defaulting party and the defaulting party was exonerated for defaulting.
- Can a non-party indeed breach a contract in which it was not a party to in the Nigerian trade custom and practice?
- In a breach of contract, which party is liable under the law – the defaulting or the non-defaulting party?
- Does Nigerian law punish the innocent and exonerate the guilty?
- Can Nigeria be taken seriously as a nation that wants to be in the forefront of international trade if a leading bank like Zenith Bank Plc is engaged in blatant fraudulent practices and criminal manipulations as witnessed in its deal with Owigs and Obigs?
5 Is there any rule of the Central Bank of Nigeria that mandates banks in the country to share in the profit of companies they act as receiving/confirming banks outside of standard commissions and fees payable to them?
- How can the much touted diversification of the Nigerian economy come to fruition if banks in the country change the rules at will and become overtly greedy to the point of frustrating and willfully rendering such profitable contracts of Owigs and Obigs useless just because its criminal manipulations could not be actualized?
- What becomes of the fate of the solid minerals sector in the country and its players when dealing with the international community if banks and state institutions in the country fail to play by international rules, processes and procedures?
- How can Nigeria be taken seriously if our judiciary can connive with supposed defaulters and suspected criminally fraudulent entities to deprive hardworking and industrious Nigerians fair hearing and equitable judgment as alleged?
- For how long will Nigeria remain a pariah nation on account of few individuals in government, judiciary and the corporate world? Any hope for a robust economic prosperity with the current trend?
These are questions not just for the Nigerian government but every conscionable Nigerian, who is pained by the current trend and desirable for a more equitable country where the highest bidder does not easily breach the rules, brazenly act like a bull in a China shop and still walk away from the consequences as Zenith Bank Plc hopes it has done!
Another conspiratorial intrigue played out when the appeal by Owigs and Obigs against the judgement came up for hearing on the 26th of February, 2020 at the Court of Appeal in Abuja as observed by reporters present.
There are two courtrooms namely, A and B in the premises, with the case assigned to court A. But in a suspicious manner and citing frivolous excuses, officials of the court suddenly announced that Court A will not be opened for court sessions that day, which technically meant that a new date would have to be sought again before the appeal can be heard.
After a heated argument by the appellants lead counsel and calls made to highest hierarchy of the court, the officials capitulated and agreed to open the court room. The drama didnt end there, when the case was eventually called, the court staff informed the panel that the case file was missing!
Again, it took the influence and intervention of Barrister Sule (SAN) the appellants lead counsel before the case file magically reappeared.
There was no counter motion when the case was announced for hearing by the respondent, Zenith Back, ably represented by Olayinka Adedeji Esq,. The Sitting Panel went on to agree that the brief was properly served the respondent. The court then moved the motion for hearing to 21st of May, 2020, the respondents lawyer also did not raise any objection.