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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ecobank fails in bid to stop Otudeko’s testimony; as he confirms payment of N3.5 billion

Obafoluke Otudeko
The Chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, yesterday, Wednesday, February 14, 2018 confirmed that Honeywell companies are not indebted to Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

He also confirmed that Honeywell paid the sum of N3.5 billion in full and final settlement of its obligations to the bank.
It should be recalled that at the hearing of 8th February, 2018, Ecobank’s lawyer, having asked preliminary questions, stated that he was no longer interested in examining the witness and sought to prevent Oba Otudeko from giving further evidence.

However, Honeywell’s Counsel, Bode Olanipekun, objected, and requested that the witness be cross-examined, having been invited by the Court at Ecobank’s instance.

At the hearing yesterday, 14th February, 2018, Ecobank’s counsel, O.A. Divine raised several objections in a bid to stall Otudeko from giving his testimony. He also informed the Court that Ecobank had filed yet another appeal and an application for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal. In responding to the objections, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, stated that Ecobank had reached the point of no return and could not prevent Otudeko from giving testimony as he was called at the instance of the bank.

In his ruling, Justice Idris stated that he was unable to place any value on the application to stay proceedings because the copy presented to the court by Ecobank’s counsel was not a certified-true-copy. He further ruled that that Oba Otudeko be allowed to give his evidence in the matter and directed that cross-examination should proceed. Led in cross-examination by Honeywell’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Otudeko affirmed that the Honeywell companies, following an agreement reached with the MD of Ecobank, Jibril Aku and other executives of the bank on July 22nd 2013, paid a total sum of N3.5 billion as full and final settlement of Honeywell’s obligations to the bank.

Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN concluded the cross examination of Dr. Oba Otudeko. Despite being the party that invited the witness, Ecobank’s counsel however declined to re-examine him. It should be recalled that Ecobank had last week refused to proceed with its examination-in-chief after asking the witness some preliminary questions. It seems that Ecobank’s strategy to call Otudeko as its star witness boomeranged hence its abrupt decision not to allow him give his testimony. From reactions in court, there was a palpable sense of bewilderment as to why Ecobank would choose to call Otudeko, the Plaintiffs’ Chairman, as its chief witness.

Following Ecobank’s refusal to re-examine the witness, the court discharged Oba Otudeko. The matter was adjourned till 12th March, 2018.

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