A chief magistrate’s court in Ogba, Lagos, has on Monday sentenced Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, to six weeks in prison.
The court, presided over by Magistrate Lateef Owolabi, extended the same sentence to Ezinwa Unuigboje, the bank’s secretary, after finding both guilty of disobeying a garnishee order of court restraining the bank from allowing a judgment debtor access to his account.
FIJ learned that Owolabi had on December 6, 2022, issued the garnishee order for 17 banks to not grant Enabulele Ozaze, a judgement debtor, access to his bank accounts until he paid a judgement debt of N2.8 million.
Ozaze was on October 13, 2022, ordered to refund one Jibrin Ahmed the sum of N2.8 million. This sum was money Ahmed had earlier paid to Ozaze for the purchase of a Toyota Corolla car.
Two months after Ozaze failed to refund, Owolabi ordered 16 banks to not allow him transact on any account.
On January 25, 2023, Ahmed told the court, via an affidavit, that Fidelity Bank had flouted the garnishee order.
He showed the court how Ozaze had been withdrawing funds from his account. He claimed that Ozaze had N3,165,759.05 in his account with Fidelity Bank as of January 12, 2023, when the garnishee order was served.
Three days after the order was served, Ozaze withdrew N725,547.80 from the account. The following day, he transferred another N251,305.90 out of the bank.
On January 17, Obianuju Nwosu, Zenith Bank’s legal officer, confirmed they received the garnishee order on December 22, 2022, and apologised to the court for the transactions on the account.
On January 18, the court ordered that the managing director and the bank’s secretary to appear before it to explain why they should not be sentenced to prison.
Both were absent on Monday. Owolabi ordered their immediate remand and instructed the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to effect their arrest.