From Mike Ojo, Lagos
The Chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, on Thursday summoned to testify in a N5.5 billion debt suit involving Honeywell Flour Mills Plc and its sister companies – Anchorage Leisures Ltd and Siloam Global Ltd – against Ecobank Plc.
Otudeko’s companies and Ecobank are embroiled in a N5.5 billion debt they allegedly owed the bank.
Mr. O.A. Divine, counsel to Ecobank, told Justice Mohammed Idris that Otudeko had repeatedly ignored court summons to appear and testify before it.
Otudeko however denied receiving any court summons.
His Counsel, Olabode Olanipekun, said that the witness had adopted his statement and that they were ready to proceed.
However, when Mr. Divine asked the witness to introduce himself and state his occupation and qualifications, Olanipekun objected to “that line of questioning.”
He said that the defendant’s counsel’s right during his examination-in-chief is limited to adoption of the witness’s statement.
“In objecting, I refer Your Lordship to the subpoena issued by this court on the application of the defendant. That subpoena was issued by the defendant and it requested the witness to give evidence on behalf of the defendant,” Olanipekun said.
But Divine argued that in normal cases where witnesses are not subpoenaed, the party calling the witness has the unfettered right to question the witness.
He said that he was served the witness’s written statement on oath on Thursday morning and had not been able to look at it.
But the judge sustained the plaintiff’s objection and told the defendant’s lawyer to lead the witness to adopt his statement after which he would undergo cross-examination and re-examination.
Divine insisted he would not lead Otudeko to adopt his statement and objected to a move by his lawyer to cross-examine him.
Olanipekun made repeated efforts at cross examining Otudeko to prove that Ecobank’s managing director was present at a meeting where it was agreed that his client’s company would pay N3.5 billion of the N5.5 billion debt owed the bank as “full and final payment of the indebtedness.”
The judge adjourned further hearing of the matter till February 14, 2018.
From Mike Ojo, Lagos