The last is yet to be heard in what is now clearly a deepening face-off between two of Nigeria’s leading big businesses – Innoson Motors and Guarantee Trust bank.
In the latest development, the motor maker is insisting that the bank had lost its string of appeals all the way from the lower courts up to the supreme court, where the ruling was made between Innoson Motors and Guarantee Trust Bank without reference to third parties.
The management of Innoson Motors has refuted claims contained in a press statement purpotedly released by Guarantee Trust Bank in which the bank claimed that no judgment had been delivered empowering the motor manufacturer to take over the bank.
GTBank’s claim is that the said judgment was against the account of the Nigerian Customs Service board domiciled with the bank as an entity and not the bank itself.
But Innoson motors says such an interpretation was short of the whole truth, insisting that according to the Garnishee order absolute, issued by the Federal High Court in Ibadan, the bank was specifically ordered to pay Innoson Nigeria Ltd, the judgment sum of N2.4 Billion with a 22% interest, per annum, on the judgment sum until the final liquidation of the judgment.
It added that G T Bank had appealed the Federal High Court’s decision, up to the Supreme Court and lost.
Innoson’s claim is that from the Supreme Court’s decision, the case was between GTB and Innoson Nigeria Ltd without naming any other party.
A garnishee is a third party, who is instructed under legal notice, to surrender money to settle a debt or claim.
In a garnishee proceeding once an order of garnishee nisi is made, the garnishee is required by law to set the amount involved aside and will not allow the judgment debtor to withdraw from it; and if the order is made absolute, the garnishee pays the money to the judgment creditor and incurs no liability for doing that but if the order is not made absolute the garnishee returns the money to the judgment debtor.
In the case in question, the order was made absolute on 29th July 2011 but Innoson claims that GTB held unto the money from that time and is using for its business.
A statement issued by Innoson Group and signed by its Head of Corporate Communications, Cornel Osigwe reads: “It follows that by the time the order was made absolute it was no more the judgment debtor’s money but rather that of Innoson Nigeria Ltd who is the judgment creditor; if a garnishee refuses to comply with the order, then, it becomes a judgment debtor, as GTB has become in the present case, against whom execution of the order will issue. Therefore, there is no merit or force in the GTB’s press statement.”
Innoson insists that the Garnishee order absolute was against GTB and no one else; adding that only the bank and no one else should comply with the order.