Friday, May 31, 2019 5:16 pm
A Federal High Court,sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria today declared that payment of N3.5 Billion made by Honeywell Group of companies between 2013 and 2014 constitutes the full and final settlement of its indebtedness to Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
The presiding Judge Justice Ayokunle Olayinka Faji, said a valid agreement was reached at various meetings between representatives of Honeywell and Ecobank on the 22nd of July, 2013 and in line with this agreement, Honeywell made payments to the Bank in order to settle its indebtedness,but However, rather than keep to the terms of the Agreement, Ecobank sought to introduce new terms.
The court further stated that all through the course of the instalmentall payments made by the company, the bank did not raise any objections to the payments. The amount now being claimed by the bank was not at any time mentioned in the meetings or series of correspondence with company.
The judgment was an outcome of a suit instituted by Anchorage Leisures Ltd, Honeywell Flour Mills Plc. and Siloam Global Limited (all members of the Honeywell Group), in August 2015, against Ecobank urging the court to determine whether or not the companies are truly indebted to the bank following the payment of the sum of N3.5 billion as full and final settlement of their obligations to the bank based on a mutual consent agreement between the two parties.
During the hearing of the case, Honeywell Head of Treasury and Finance, Oluwakemi Owasanoye in her evidence told the court that by an agreement reached at a meeting held on July 22, 2013, the bank agreed to merge the collective indebtedness of Honeywell’s three subsidiaries, which amounted to N3.5billion.
Owasanoye testify further that part of the agreement reached with the bank was that N500million must be paid immediately, while the balance of N3billion would be paid before the exit of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) examiners from the bank.
Honeywell complied with the terms of the agreement, and thereafter wrote to inform the bank of its compliance and the need for the bank to formally discharge the company of any further obligation,but the bank in its reply to the letter did not raise any objections. Honeywell.
Surprisingly the bank proceeded to demand for further payments in respect of the debt which had been fully liquidated for over a year.
Consequently,the Company referred the dispute to the Bankers’ Committee for adjudication,The banker’s committee resolved the matter in favour of Honeywell.
In his own evidence Ecobank witness, Mr Elemi Agbor, Group Head of Corporate Communications of Ecobank, Mr Elemi Agbor while being cross examined by Honeywell’s lawyer, Mr Olabode Olanipekun (SAN), insisted that the agreement for the payment was for a two-term payment only. He said the agreement stipulates that N500million must be paid that same day and the balance later. He was unable to substantiate his assertion.