UBA’s GMD, Uzoka, others risk jail over N347.3m Zamfara debt

A Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Thursday ordered the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc Group Managing Director, Mr Kennedy Uzoka and his Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Samuel Adikamkwu to appear before Justice Saliu Saidu, the sitting judge, in respect of contempt proceedings initiated against them by a firm, Greenwich Trust Limited, the judgment/creditor.

The firm, while moving the court to make the order said the UBA, Uzoka and Adikamkwu as alleged contemnors disobeyed a garnishee order made absolute on December 17, 2018, directing them to release funds of Zamfara State Government in their possession as its bankers.

Agreeing with the judgment/creditor the judge said: “It is appropriate for them (the alleged contemnors) to be in court despite the pending preliminary objection. I’ll adjourn to allow the alleged contemnors to appear before me.

He continued: “They are aware of the proceedings, and that awareness is sufficient for them to be present. Let them come and show their face and respect all of us here,”.

Justice Saidu had last June 8 delivered a judgment in favour of Greenwich Trust and awarded N347,355,000 with interest.

The firm sued the Zamfara State, its Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice and its Ministry of Finance over the said amount for services rendered to the state.

Last November 27, 2018, Justice Saidu granted an Order Nisi and subsequently made the order absolute on December 17, commanding UBA to release to the applicant the attached judgment sum in its custody.

The company said despite being aware of the order, “the persons cited/alleged contemnors refused/neglected to obey/comply with the lawful order of court still subsisting till date.”

“The cited persons’ disobedience of the orders of court amounts to contemptuous challenge of the integrity of this honourable court and an attempt to undermine the due administration of justice,” the applicant said.

Greenwich Trust sought for “an order committing Kennedy Uzoka and Samuel Adekamkwu to prison for their willful, deliberate and orchestrated disobedience to the garnishee order made absolute commanding the release of attached judgment sum which is in the custody of the respondent (UBA).”

The applicant also sought for an order that the alleged contemnors “remain in prison and/or protective custody at any of the detaining security agencies or at any designated prison/reformatory in Nigeria’s territorial landscape until they purge themselves of the contempt of this honourable court”.

But, the alleged contempnors, in their preliminary objection, said they were not personally served with the contempt application as required by law.

“The Form 48 and 49 as well as the accompanying processes were not personally served on the alleged contemnors as required by law.“The reliefs contained in the purported Form 49 herein are not grantable having failed to comply with Order 35 of the Rules of this court.

“The action of the judgment-creditor in commencing contempt proceedings against the alleged contemnors without serving them with the relevant order of court is in utter breach of their right to fair hearing.

“A person cannot be in contempt of an order of court if the process is not served on him. This honourable court has the powers to set aside any process procured except by strict compliance with the rules of court.

Justice Saidu thereafter adjourned the matter to February 27, 2019 for hearing of all applications, including the committal proceedings and preliminary objection.