Ecobank Counsel Alleges Unprofessional Conduct by Wole Olanipekun & Co. in Honeywell Debt Recovery Case

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In a recent development in the ongoing Honeywell debt recovery saga, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN), the counsel representing Ecobank Plc, has taken action against the law firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co.

He filed a petition before the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the Body of Benchers (BoB) on July 18, urging them to investigate the law firm’s role in the matter.

According to Ogunba, Wole Olanipekun & Co. has engaged in unprofessional conduct and has abused the final judgment of the Supreme Court in the case involving shares belonging to Honeywell Group Ltd., Honeywell Flour Mills Plc., Anchorage Ltd., Siloam Global Services Ltd., and Dr. Oba Otudeko in FBN Holdings Plc or any other entity.

The crux of Ogunba’s complaint lies in the law firm’s alleged attempt to relitigate the matter of Honeywell’s debt, which had already been settled by the Supreme Court. He referred to a series of letters exchanged between his firm, Kunle Ogunba & Associates, and Wole Olanipekun & Co., which he claims demonstrate the latter’s intent to undermine the finality of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Ogunba asserted that the law firm’s “fresh action” filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos is a direct challenge to the previous ruling by the highest court in the country. He emphasized that the Supreme Court had clearly held that the bank, as the owner of the debts, had the right to decide whether to recover the dues or not, but it could not be compelled to waive its contractual rights.

In a statement by Mr. Ogunba, it reads “Clearly, the response of the firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co. has departed from its previous position that the Supreme Court could not have and, indeed, did not grant an award claim in favor of the bank and has unilaterally codified a phantom unanimity of position that entity and personality who undoubtedly guaranteed the facilities are not parties before the Court and that a certain figure was never mentioned when the Supreme Court held that the “Debtor must pay all the debts that have accrued under the loan contract”.

“Indeed, if that position is true for all intents and purposes, the question is why the necessity for a “fresh action” on behalf of the judgment debtors necessitates a counter-claim on our part?”

If the preposition of the counsel to Honeywell Group and its cronies is allowed to stand, it means there will not be an end to the litigation of a contract between parties.

The Ecobank counsel raised concerns that if such actions were allowed to persist, it could lead to an endless cycle of litigation in contract disputes involving parties enumerating figures. He highlighted that the law firm’s new claim in the lower court contradicts the Supreme Court’s factual findings and attempts to compel the bank to waive its rightful recovery.

Furthermore, he said, “However, by the fresh action filed, the Appellants as Plaintiff now seek an order that the owner, {the bank, can be so compelled contrary to the binding decision of the Supreme Court, the highest Court in the land, which found as a matter of fact that as of the 17th day of January, 2014, the sum of N3,1116,731,061.07 remains outstanding, which is more than the N2b the Plaintiff admitted as due and owing.”

The petition now awaits the attention of the CJN and the BoB, who will be tasked with investigating the allegations of unprofessionalism and abuse of court processes leveled against Wole Olanipekun & Co.