By Michael Adesanya
The Federal Court sitting in Abeokuta Judicial Division has ordered the Ogun State Government to pay the sum of N4, 185,000. 00 into its account following hearing on a case (number FHC/AB/CS/62/2018) on arbitral award filed by Bond Investment and Holdings Limited against the government
The case was earlier filed and entertained at the Appeal Court in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital, which was in favour of the company, and in response, the respondent’s counsel, O.Ogunsanwo, had on June 9, 2021 filed a notice of appeal challenging the decision of the appeal court of the May 20,2021.
The appeal is yet to be entered, while Ogunsanwo stated that his appearance in court was out of respect for the court as the order of this court was served to his client (respondent) on July 8, 2021, adding that he was still within time tune to the applicant’s motion exparte, now converted by the court to a motion on notice.
The counsel stated their different stances and the matter was thereafter adjourned to Thursday, July 15,2021 for hearing, while the extant application heard on July 15, 2021 remains the same and is dated June 15,2021 praying the court for recognition and enforcement of the arbitral award made on February, 2020.
The respondent in opposing the application filed in a 19 paragraph counter affidavit sworn to by Temitope Alaye, a Senior State Counsel in the office of the respondent, and attached three exhibits, which include; order of court dated 11th December, 2018 appointing Remi Awe as co-arbitrator.
The second exhibit is notice of appeal against the judgment of the court of appeal dated 9th June, 2021 filed on 25th June, 2021 and motion of injunction pending appeal filed in the registry of the court of appeal dated and filed on 14th July, 2021 seeking to restrain the recognition and enforcement of the arbitral award
The applicant, responding to the counter affidavit, filed a reply on point of law on 15th July 2021, and in moving his application Bolaji Ayorinde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) referred to his motion dated 15th June 2021, the affidavit support, his written address and exhibits as well as his reply on point of law
His main plank of his argument is that notice of appeal does not and cannot operate as a stay and that the court has the unfettered discretion to grant application, but in opposing the application Director Civil Litigation Ogun state, P.O Akinsinde prayed the court to dismiss the application base on earlier three exhibits submitted
The judge, Justice O.O Oguntoyinbo in response to both parties, declared that the court has a duty to ensure that the successful litigants reap the fruits of his successful litigation, stressing that he was mindful of the fact that the application for injunction was not before him, but before the court of appeal in Ibadan
‘It is not expected of me in this court to speculate on how the court of appeal will react to this application pending before it. However, I am duty bound to uphold the equity dictated by the circumstance of this matter’, Oguntoyinbo stated
‘In discharging this duty, the court is called upon to protect the interest of the applicant and allay the fears of the respondent who might feel that it would be difficult and impossible to recover arbitral award from the applicant, where exhibit TA2 i.e the appeal challenging the court of appeal judgment of the 20th May,2021 is resolved in favour of the respondent in the application. ”
Delivering his ruling, the judge declared that the application of the applicant succeeds in part, adding that the prayer for the recognition of the award succeeds, and ordered the respondents to pay the said amount into an interest yielding account of the Federal High court, plus interest rate
‘The respondents are hereby ordered to pay into an interest yielding account of the Federal High Court, the total award in the sum of N4, 185,000.00(four Billion One Hundred and Eighty-Five Million Naira) plus interest at the rate of 4% from the date award until full payment within 14 days from today, Friday 23rd of July,2021’, the judge ruled
Meanwhile, following the ruling, no court will hear the matter until the money is paid into the specified account, and failure to make the payment may lead to commencement of contempt of court against the Ogun State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Finance.