Obanikoro’s suit: NBC wants N96.8m judgment-debt order quashed
The Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) on Wednesday urged an Ikeja High Court to dismiss a garnishee order in respect of a N96.8m judgment in favour of a Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Obanikoro had in 2010 sued the NBC at an Edo High Court for damages over a fatal accident involving his daughter, Abidemi.
Obanikoro’s co-applicants in the suit are his daughter, Miss Abidemi Obanikoro, and Mrs Agnes Akele, the wife of his driver.
On May 13, 2007, Abidemi, her friend, Miss Ibukun Adeniyi, Obanikoro’s driver and a police orderly had set out from Lagos to Igbinedion University, Okada in Edo, Abidemi and Adeniyi’s school.
During their trip, a NBC vehicle which was alleged by the applicants to be driven recklessly crashed into the senator’s vehicle killing all occupants with the exception of Abidemi.
Abidemi, who was badly injured, was immediately flown to South Africa for life-saving medical treatment.
In 2010, Obanikoro sued the NBC for damages at the Edo High Court, Auchi. Because the accident occurred within its jurisdiction.
On June 2, 2016, the Edo High Court granted a judgment in favour of Obanikoro and his co-applicants to the tune of N96.8 million.
The court had ordered that N1.5million should be awarded to Obanikoro as expenses incurred on behalf of his late driver and police orderly.
It awarded 184,236.52 dollars (N76.69 million) as cost for medical expenses for Abidemi’s treatment in South Africa and 48,779.66 South African Rand (N1.07 million) for her hotel accommodation in South Africa.
The court also awarded N10 million to Akele for the pain and suffering over the death of her husband, the driver of the car.
Obanikoro’s daughter was also awarded N10 million as general damages for her pain and suffering while N500, 000 was awarded as costs of the action.
NAN reports that although the NBC appealed the amount awarded in favour of the applicants, Obanikoro, through his lawyer, Mr. Lawal Pedro, (SAN), had registered the judgment before the Lagos High Court because NBC’s headquarters is located in Lagos.
The one-time senator subsequently got a garnishee order from an Ikeja High Court against five banks where the NBC had accounts and the NBC appealed the order.
During proceedings on Wednesday, counsel to the NBC, Mr. Ademola Olawoye, in an application requested that the court should set aside the garnishee order as it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
He argued that any adjudication on the case should be stalled pending the outcome of the appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Olawoye argued that since an appeal had been filed in respect of the judgment delivered by Edo High Court, no other court could adjudicate on the matter.
Counsel to the applicants, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), however, told the court to disregard the argument of the NBC, noting that there was no evidence before the court that they had appealed the N96.8m judgment.
He drew the court’s attention the fact that the appeal form which was presented to the court by the NBC as proof that they had filed an appeal at a higher court had no official Court of Appeal stamp and appeal number.
“The order for stay of proceedings purportedly obtained by the judgment-debtor cannot prevent a garnishee proceeding.
“Garnishee actions are a separate proceeding and cannot be affected by stay of execution of the judgment obtained from the Edo High Court,” Pedro said.
Pedro urged the court to disregard the argument of the NBC and allow the garnishee order to be executed.
Justice Kazeem Alogba adjourned the case until July 11 for ruling.