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The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu yesterday dismissed the preliminary objections brought before it by the Chairman of Innoson Motors, Chief Innocent Chukwuma and his company, Innoson Motors Ltd. 

Innoson arguing through his counsel, Prof. McCarthy Mbadugha had at the last hearing of the matter on June 14, 2018 raised objections to a motion brought before the court by GTBank seeking to amend its notice of appeal before the court.

Delivering ruling yesterday, Justice Ogunwumiju held that, the court would be in serious error if it decides to wait and hear Innoson Motors preliminary objection. 

“There is no doubt that the application for amendment of the notice of appeal will, if successful, give the appeal a chance of being considered and disposed-off on the merit rather than on technicalities. It is implicit in the constitutional rights of fair hearing that parties in a case be accorded every reasonable opportunity of being heard, and that extends to the right to amend their processes and place before the court all the issues they may wish to canvass to enable the court reach a fair and just conclusion”.

Ogunwumiju also ruled that, “The fact that the respondent counsel raised objections to some of the grounds of appeal is not a bar that can deprive the appellant of the right to amend his notice of appeal. 

The respondent has not argued that the notice of appeal that the appellant is seeking to amend is fundamentally defective. He has failed to identify any substantial or legally acceptable reason to support the objection.

There is no limitation of time to amend a notice of appeal, the objection by Innoson is not only frivolous but is vexatious and hereby dismissed”, she ruled.

Concluding her ruling, Justice Ogunwumiju noted that “this court had at an earlier adjourned date observed that it found it strange that Innoson, a judgment creditor will be employing all manner of tactics to delay the hearing of the substantive appeal entered in this court as far back as 2013”.

“I see no reason to refuse the appellant’s (GTBank) request to amend its notice of appeal”.

“Everyone in this judicial drama knows that the substantive appeal must be decided in this court and no matter how much time is wasted, the Supreme Court can only hear the substantive matter after it has been decided in this court”.

“Without any disrespect to whatever legal gymnastics being displayed by the 1st to 4th Respondents’ (Innoson) Counsel, these are the types of practices that give the administration of Justice a bad name considering that this case involves money and has been hanging in this court since 2013”.

“Considering all the reasons and circumstances set out above, I hold that it is in the interest of Justice that the appellants application be granted in terms of the following orders:

• Leave is granted to the Appellant (GTBank) to raise new issues in this appeal,

• Leave is granted to the Appellant (GTBank) to amend its notice of appeal in terms of the particulars and specifics highlighted in its supporting Affidavit

• The amended notice of appeal which has already been filed and served is properly filed and served

• Leave is granted the Appellant (GTBank) to amend its brief of argument to reflect the reliefs granted.

 

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UBA Hinges Future Performance on Cost Efficiency, Improved Asset Quality

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has assured its local and international investors that it’s prudent focus on improved asset quality as well as the continuous adoption of strict cost efficient measures will help the bank achieve its objectives and priorities for the 2019 financial year and beyond.

This the bank has said will culminate into an institution with even stronger indices laced with the capacity to churn out strong double-digit growth in annuity-based trade services, enhanced offerings and improved customer service.

Already, the bank has instituted a number of enhanced risk management and control framework which have in no small measure contributed to its financial performances and overall balance sheet growth over the years.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, who noted this in a submission while presenting the bank’s 2018 full year results during an international investor/ analysts conference call on Thursday, explained that UBA’s well diversified asset book supported by stable funding structure, placed it in a premium position to perform remarkably despite the falling economic indices in its operating environment.

He said, “In spite of slow recovery in economic activities in Nigeria (our single largest market), the Group’s total assets has grown by 19.7%, driven largely by a strong deposit growth of 23%, as the drive for retail deposits continue to yield desired results. Leveraging on enhanced customer service, the Group grew retail deposits by 48%, thus strengthening the funding base and providing the foundation for lower cost of funds in 2019.

“Notably, the growth in balance sheet also partly reflects the impact of exchange rate difference between the reporting dates (2017: N331/USD vs. 2018: N359/USD), as 37% of loans and 27% of overall balance sheet is FCY-denominated. The Group maintained its appetite for a well-diversified balance sheet, with over 60% in liquid, low risk instruments.”

Uzoka explained to the investors that the bank recorded impressive growths achieved across major financial lines, recording a 48 percent year-on-year growth in retail deposits and improved CASA ratio to 77 percent.

In its results for the year end December 2018, UBA gross earnings grew by 7.0 percent to N494.0 billion, compared to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017. The Bank’s total assets also grew significantly by 19.7 percent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion for the year under review

Throwing more light on the financials, he stated that gross earnings grew by 7% year-on-year, despite regulation and market conditions undermined the non-interest income line. Interest income, which contributed 73% of gross earnings, grew by 11%, driven by strong interest income on treasuries, reflecting the low-risk appetite and treasury-led strategy adopted during the year. He noted that the lower non-interest income was occasioned by market condition and regulatory impact on FX trading income, adding that growing volume on FX trading is compensating for lower margin on this business, thus reinforcing our positive growth expectation on this income line in 2019.

While speaking on the strength of the financial institution in the coming years, especially on the back of it’s African and non-African subsidiaries, Uzoka said the bank’s recent foray into key markets and economies remain a milestone that will catapult the institution in the coming years.

He said, “UBA is a unique pan-African franchise with diversified risk and earnings across fast growing African economies with sound governance, risk management and compliance culture which can be seen from our adherence to international best practice. Our robust digital banking platform through which we are leveraging technology to serve over 15 million customers in a cost efficient approach that has helped to deepen African banking penetration.

“We have the strong financial capacity backed by high capitalization (BASEL II capital ratio well above requirement) and strong liquidity, and we have worked hard towards connecting Africa and the world through our presence in key African markets and major global financial centres such as New York, London and Paris.”

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BREAKING: INEC Resumes Collation Of Bauchi Governorship Election Results

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has decided to resume from Tuesday the collation of the governorship election result in Bauchi State and may declare the winner of the poll hitherto ruled as inconclusive.

The commission announced the decision in a press statement on Friday night after resolving some issues around the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government and some polling units in Ningi Local Government.

INEC did not state whether by the decision, the scheduled supplementary election on March has been cancelled.

According to INEC, the number of cancelled votes in four polling units in Ningi Local Government was 2,533 and not 25,330 as recorded.

On Tafawa Balewa Local Government election result, where collation was disrupted by armed gangs, affecting seven out of 11 registration areas for governorship and six out of 11 for state assembly elections, INEC said a committee set up has found that the results in polling units and registration areas are “available and in safe custody”.

INEC thus decided to resume the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of the council area for both the governorship and state assembly elections

A new collation and returning officer for Tafawa Balewa has been appointed “to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original collation officer, who withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members”.

The threatened collation officer was Dominion Anosike.

The governorship election in Bauchi State is a straight fight between incumbent Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress and former minister, Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Bala was said to have won the Tafawa Balewa Local Government election, putting him in an overall lead of his APC counterpart, but the INEC returning officer, Prof. Mohammed Kyari, declared the election inconclusive.

In declaring the election inconclusive, Kyari gave the scores of incumbent governor as 465,453 votes and Mohammed as 469,512 votes.

“The margin between the winner and opponent is less than the total number of votes cancelled in some polling units.By law, since the margin of winner is less than the total number of votes cancelled and registered voters in the areas where the votes have been cancelled, this elections is hereby declared inconclusive,” he said.

He said his decision was in line with section 26 part 53 of the Electoral Act.

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DSS Gave Me $500,000 To Set-Up Lawan — Femi Otedola

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The trial of former Rep. Farouk Lawan resumed in Abuja on Monday with Mr Femi Otedola, testifying that the $500,000 offered to the accused was from Department of State Service (DSS).

Business magnate Otedola appeared before before Justice Angela Otaluka of the FCT High Court, Apo as a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Lawan.

He said the money was given to him by the DSS to set a trap for Lawan after he wrote a petition against him.

He accused Lawan of demanding 3 million dollars as bribe from him to exonerate his oil company, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, from the alleged subsidy scam in 2012.

He further told the court that the 500,000 dollars was part payment of the 3 million dollars being demanded by Lawan, which was eventually given to him under the supervision of the DSS.

Otedola said he petitioned the DSS immediately Lawan demanded for the bribe.

“Lawan said he was going to exonerate my company after giving him the money, security cameras were mounted in my living room to capture the exchange of money between me and the defendant.

“The video is with the DSS, the money was given to him in two tranches $250,000 each,” he said.

When reminded by Chief Ozekhome, that the best time “to catch a thief is when the operation is ongoing,” Otedola said he did not know why DSS failed to arrest Lawan at that moment.

The Judge, however, adjourned the matter till March 8 for continuation of cross examination of the prosecution witness.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lawan is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for allegedly collecting 500,000 dollars out of 3 million dollars bribe.

The money was said to have been requested to remove Otedola’s company’s name from the list of firms indicted by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy in 2012.

(NAN)

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