Court Dismisses Heritage Bank’s Claim Of Granting N200M Loan To Customer

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– Says ‘It’s Bereft Of Any Morsel Of Merit’

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos, has dismissed an appeal filed by Heritage Bank Plc, challenging the judgment of Justice Musiliu S. Hassan of a Federal High Court, which held that the bank did not give out N200-million loan facility, as claimed.

Justice Hassan in his judgment in suit number FHC/L/CS/1217/2009 filed by Frontel Nigeria Limited and Alhaji Samsudeen Owonifari against Heritage Bank Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, held that Heritage Bank did not grant the facility and neither was the money collected.

The lower Court had also ordered the bank to reinstate the 1st Respondent account with a credit balance of N15,035,244.25 and pay 21 per cent interest per annum on the said sum from 15th July 2008 till final liquidation.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Heritage Bank in its Notice of Appeal marked CA/L/73/2019, urged the appellate court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.

But, in his lead judgment, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya, held that the appeal is bereft of any morsel of merit and deserves the reserved penalty of dismissal.

The appellate court also held that the lower court’s assessment of the documents presented was an immaculate one and all the diatribes rained against it by Heritage Bank were of no significance.

“I have, in order to pacify the law given a global/ universal examination of the 1st Respondent’s pleading. I am unable to find, even with the prying eagle-eye of an appellate court, where it made a wholesale admission of the indebtedness.

“Perhaps, that informed the appellant to hinge its complaint on the documents – exhibits D5 and D6 – especially the latter. I have given a microscopic examination of both. They do not harbour any ambiguity. Exhibit D5, dated 16th February 2009, was a written correspondence from the Appellant to the 1st Respondent.

“Notwithstanding that the title of the document talks of indebtedness, the body of it made no “reference, even in infinitesimal measure, to the grant of credit facility. Nor does it disclose that the indebtedness relates to an amount germinating from the controversial credit facility. lt only made casual allusion to the meeting of 12th February 2009.

“The sum mentioned is not N200 million – the subject of the loan. Curiously, the document failed to link the alleged indebtedness as a progeny of the credit facility. The lacuna is a costly one. The reason is simple. The document does not, in the least, embrace the credit facility in order to apportion liability to the alleged debt on the 1st Respondent.

“The glaring absence of direct nexus/correlation between the document and the credit liability constitutes a serious coup de grace to the Appellant’s heavy reliance on it and, ipso facto, makes mincemeat of its dazzling argument in support of it.

“Flowing from this expansive tour d’ horizon on evaluation of evidence, done in due allegiance to the law, the lower court’s ultimate finding is an immaculate one. It did not transgress the law to render its faultless finding guilty of the ‘accusation of perfunctory evaluation of evidence hurled against it by the appellant.

“In fact, the allegation is a pseudogene as well as uncharitable and unsustainable. In this wise, I, with due deference, dishonour the learned Appellant’s counsel’s salivating invitation to sacrifice the finding, on the proof of the main claim, on the underserved altar of improper evidential evaluation. In the end, I have no option but to resolve the conflated issues one, two, three, four, five and six against the Appellant and in favour of the Respondents.

“On the whole, having resolved the six issues against the Appellant, the destiny of the appeal is obvious. It is bereft of any morsel of merit and deserves the reserved penalty of dismissal.

“Consequently, I dismiss the appeal. I affirm the judgment of the lower court. The parties shall bear the respective costs they incurred in the prosecution and defence of the ill-fated appeal.”

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