FOUR companies: Innoson Nigeria Ltd, Innoson Technical and Industrial Company, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, and Innoson Autoparts Manufacturing Company, have instituted a N30billion suit against Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, GTB, before a Federal High Court, Awka, Anambra State for “illegally” freezing their accounts, an action that brought “economic misfortune” to their businesses.
In a statement of claim filed on their behalf before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Prof. MacCarthy Mbadugha, the companies said that on September 1, 2014, the bank served on Innoson Nigeria Limited a court order with a suit number FHC/L/CS/1119/2014, filed before a Federal High Court, Lagos between GTB and Innoson Nigeria Limited, Justice Okon Abang ordered that pending the hearing and the determination of the substantive suit, all commercial banks in Nigeria were restrained from accepting, honouring, or giving effect in any manner whatsoever to any mandate or instruction presented to them by Innoson Company, or any of its agents or nominees for withdrawal of any sum of money standing to the credit of any account maintained by the company in all the banks.
In the said court order, GTB undertook to indemnify the company as to any loss which may be incurred in the unlikely event that the application ought not to have been granted.
The basis of the bank’s action, according to the companies’ statement of claim, were indebtedness to the bank in the sum of N1.5billion, and that rather than the company repaying the loan, diverted same and was in the process of dissipating its assets in order to avoid repaying the loan.
Based on the court order, all accounts of the companies were frozen; the companies operate current accounts in 15 of the 18 banks listed in the order.
Consequently, the companies stated that their activities were grounded as they could not pay duties and clearing of imported goods, thereby incurring heavy demurrage before they could make alternative monetary arrangement, as the action of the bank made it impossible for them to borrow or assess funds or money from any bank or financial institution in Nigeria.
The plaintiffs further stated that their non-production resulted for seven months during their redundancy to avoid heavy cost of searching for expertise of their calibre given their skills and non-putting of the machines into use resulted in the machines being damaged.
The plaintiffs averred that the action of the bank injured their credibility and presented them as bad debtors.
However, on June 10, 2015, based on an application and the argument presented by Mbadugha that the order was obtained by suppression, concealment or failure to disclose material facts before the court to set aside the order, Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos set it aside and struck out the entire suit freezing the accounts of the four companies.
Consequently, the companies want the Federal High Court, Awka to award N30billion against GTB being special damages arising from the bank’s unlawful freezing of their accounts from September 1, 2014 to June 15,2015, and for reputational and injuring they suffered as well as being general damages.
They also sought an order compelling the GTB to pay 22 percent interest on the sum claimed till judgement is delivered, and thereafter at the same rate till liquidation of the judgement debt.
The court ordered that all the processes should be served on GTB at its headquarters in Plot 1669, Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, loss of business and profit, deterioration of some of the raw materials, as they became unfit for use, while staffers were rendered redundant even as they continued to pay salaries. They added that some of the Chinese expatriates left the company for China while some of them were paid $66,000 monthly

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