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N17.8b Debt: Court To Hear Contempt Charge Against Firm, Directors June 20

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Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, in Lagos has fixed June 20 for hearing of contempt charge filed against Afex Commodities Exchange Ltd, and five of its Directors over  alleged failure to obey court order in respect of the firm’s N17,808,452,467.107  loan facilities granted by Guaranty Trust Bank.

The judge adjourned the matter after hearing arguments from Chief Ajibola Aribisala SAN,  Counsel to the Plaintiff (GTB), and Collins Ogbonna counsel to the judgement debtor (Afex Commodities Exchange).

The alleged contemnors are, Afex Commodities Exchange Ltd, and it’s Directors, Ayodeji Olaleye Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Lee Topilow, Mobolaji Oluwatomi Adeoye, and Koonal Bharat Ghandi.

When the matter came up yesterday, Chief Aribisala observed that the alleged contemnors were not in court, and urged the court to issue Bench Warrants against them to compell them to come to court.

He stated that the order of court authorising Guaranty Trust  (GTBank) to take over the funds and assets belonging to Afex Commodities Exchange following its inability to pay N17,808,452,467.107  (billion) loan facilities granted by the bank has not been obeyed.

Aribisala said the issue of contempt is sui generis (of its own kind), and takes precedence above any other applications file before the court.

He submitted that every person to whom an order of court is directed has an unqualified obligation to obey the Order until the Order is discharged or set aside on appeal.

He argued that the alleged contemnors are still liable to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt.

But, counsel to the judgement debtor, Collins Ogbonna objected to the issue of bench warrant against the defendants, arguing that his law firm has just been served in court with processes.

Citing legal authorities, he urged the court to hear a Motion filed by the defendants challenging the order of court, authorizing Guaranty Trust  (GTBank) to temporarily take over the funds and assets belonging to Afex Commodities.

Recall that Justice Aneke had on May 27 granted granted an interim Global Standing Instruction (GSI) injunctive relief, following an application moved by GTBank’s counsel Chief Aribisala (SAN).

GSI was created as a last resort for banks and financial institutions to recover outstanding loans from chronic debtors.

The court also granted a “Pre-judgement interest on the N15,766,475,417.06 at the prevailing rediscount rate of 28 per cent per annum approved by the CBN from April 18, 2024, when the Plaintiff’s letter of demand dated April 17, 2024, was delivered to the Defendant until Judgment is delivered in this suit.

“Post-judgement interest on the said sum of N15,766,475,417.06” and “Cost of recovery and incidental expenses in the sum of N2,041,977,050.047.”

It further granted a mandatory injunction commanding the defendant/respondent to allow the plaintiff to appoint its appointed agent to take over the commodities/produce stored by the defendant in the 16 warehouses across the seven states.

The court also directed the police and Civil Defence Corp to assist GTBank in securing and dealing with the commodities/produce stored by the defendant in the 16 warehouses across the seven states

GTBank is the sole plaintiff/applicant in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/911/2024, Afex Commodities Exchange is the defendant/respondent, while 27 commercial banks and all money deposit banks were listed as nominal respondents.

However, the defendants allegedly refused to comply with orders of court, thereby necessitating the Plaintiff to filed Form 48, and Form 49 against the defendants.

Form 48, and Form 49, are notice of consequences of disobedience of order of court, and notice to show cause why an order of committal should not be made against the person.

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