by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Contempt proceedings have commenced against Zenith Bank PLC, over alleged disobedience to court order, the Executive Director (ED) International Human Rights Protection Initiative, an NGO, Mr Samuel Nwadigo, has revealed.
Zenith Bank allegedly disobeyed orders of the Kaduna State High Court directing it to pay the sum of N14,216,107,34 into Guarantee Trust Bank, GTBank Account, of late Mrs Florence Ngozi Aguwa, late wife of Naemeka Aguwa.
A press release ‘on disrespect for court order by Zenith Bank’ issued and signed by the ED of the NGO, Mr Samuel Nwadigo, described the action as “Contemptuous and crass disrespect for court orders by Messrs Zenith Bank PLC, particularly in the matter of a case with suit no.KDH/888/2021, between Mrs Jecinta Uloma Ibe and Zenith Bank Plc, the Commissioner of Police FCT Police Command and Mr. Nnaemeka Magnus Aguwa,” respectively.
The human rights organization, in a release availed to our reporter in Kaduna, stated that “We will, however, highlight the crass contempt for the orders of the Kaduna State High Court directing Zenith Bank to pay the sum of N14,216,107,34, which is the fact in issue in the substantive case into another account belonging to Mrs. Florence Ngozi Aguwa (deceased person), who owned the account from which the money was withdrawn is the fact in issue.
“We received a complaint from Mr Magnus Emeka Aguwa, a widower and husband to one Mrs Florence Ngozi Aguwa (deceased), who died on the 16th day of January, 2020, and was survived by her husband, Mr Magnus Emeka Aguwa, and two children aged 5 and 7 years, respectively.
“Prior to her death, the late Mrs Florence Ngozi Aguwa was operating accounts with various banks among whom is Zenith Bank PLC. Upon her death, members of her family had been having a running battle with Mr Aguwa in respect of the monies in the deceased’s various accounts and the property her family perceived she left behind.
“This culminated in one of the sisters of the deceased, one Mrs Jecinta Uloma Ibe (now Jacinta Uloma Agha Orji) going to obtain letters of administration to enable her withdraw the sum of N14,226,107.34 from the account of the deceased domiciled with Messrs Zenith Bank PLC without the knowledge of the rest of her family and the widower of the deceased.
“Upon discovery, the widower of the deceased, Mr Aguwa, made a complaint to the police, which led to the stopping of the Managers Cheque issued to the said Mrs Jecinta Uloma Ibe pursuant to the withdrawal form and closure of the account of the deceased.
“Mrs Jecinta Uloma Ibe approached the Kaduna State High Court to compel Zenith Bank to release the money to her and joined Mr Magnus Emeka Aguwa as a defendant.
“In his defence, Mr Aguwa filed a Motion Exparte accompanied with a Motion on Notice seeking, among other things, the payment of the amount in issue into the deceased’s account with GTBank PLC with account number 0230780257 for safe keeping pending the determination of the suit.
“The High Court of Kaduna State granted the prayers in Mr Aguwa’s motion as prayed.
Since the order was given by the Kaduna State High Court, however, Messrs Zenith Bank PLC have failed, refused and/or neglected to obey the orders of court.
“The behavior of Messrs Zenith Bank PLC becomes all the more disheartening because as a respected financial institution with a reputation to protect, one would have thought that Zenith Bank PLC would be the last institution to be found disobeying court orders.
“However, such impunity has become the order of the day which, if not checked, it will become a cancer that will spread into all facets of the society and, when that happens, we will have a lawless society that will be governed by brutish force and our courts will no longer be relevant in the scheme of things.
“The consequences of the scenario described above can only be imagined than experienced,” the ED lamented, and therefore called on all well-meaning Nigerians to condemn in the harshest terms the systematic rape and pushing into oblivion of our judiciary and/or judicial process.
“We need to name and shame anybody, who has scant regard for our judicial system. On our part, we have commenced contempt proceedings against Zenith Bank PLC in our efforts to maintain the sanctity of the courts.
“We have already issued a Notice of Consequences of Disobedience to Court Orders, otherwise known as Form 48, and followed up with a notice of applications for committal to prison, also known as Form 49, against Zenith Bank PLC.
“And we will surely follow through, until the contemnors, Messrs Zenith Bank, abide by the orders of the court or be punished for not doing so. You will find attached, copies of all the necessary processes pursuant to the contempt proceedings,” he stated.
In an interview, a cousin brother of the deceased husband, who is also the ED Human Rights Organisation, Mr Nwadigo, said while Mr Aguwa’s wife, Mrs. Florence Ngozi Aguwa, died of pregnancy complicated-related issues in hospital in Abuja, the wife’s sisters in-law accused him of being responsible for the death of his wife and detained him in the police facility.
Mr Aguwa, the widower, was also dragged to court by the in-laws over properties of his wife, who was working in the Foreign Affairs Ministry Abuja, before her demise. A sister in-law, Jecinta Uloma lbe, wife of Lt. Colonel AO Orji of Nigerian Army, also dragged the late sister’s husband to Federal High Court in a bid to claim the properties of the late sister.
The widower was allegedly taken to Kaduna High Court by the sister in-laws, after attempt to remove over N14 million from Zenith Bank Account of the late sister, without the consent of the husband failed.
“Prior to the above, the sister in-laws reportedly collected and shared over N6 million of the late sister’s foreign trading with one Godwin Barry, who was managing the business, but that was overlooked by the husband,” he said.
The ED also said, trouble started on 29th December, 2019, when Mr. Aguwa and the late wife both returned from overseas where the wife was serving as a staff of Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“The couple, the husband and wife, came to Nigeria with their two kids with a car owned by the wife in 2019, during Christmas period,” Nwadigo stated. He said the brother later travelled to their home town in Owerri, Imo State, with the wife’s car without the wife because of her pregnancy condition, which provoked negative reactions by the in-laws, who frowned against the development.
Mr. Nwadigo further explained that the in-laws, who were in Abuja on a welcome visit to their sister from abroad, were angry that the husband travelled with the car that supposed to be used in taking her to anti-natal in view of her pregnancy condition.
The worse happened, when the husband was involved in a terrible ghastly motor accident where the said car was almost written off because of the colossal damage.
While the wife was happy that her husband survived without any fatality on him as a result of the accident, the sister in-laws were in serious pain, blaming their sister and called her names.
Within the period, the woman became sick and was taken to the hospital, where she later gave up the ghost after intensive care and treatment by doctors in national hospital in Abuja.
The twins pregnancy was evacuated by doctors to ensure that the life of the woman is saved but that also could not help matters, Mr Nwadigo narrated.
While the husband was running around for burial arrangement in Imo State where the corpse was deposited in morgue to save cost, information got to him that the sister in-laws were planning to escape with his two children.
Without wasting time, the husband came over and took the children to his own senior sister in Lagos, left them there and return back to Imo State and continued with the burial plans.
The relationship turned sour immediately the sister in-laws, who were unpleasant with the action received the information and started accusing the husband of responsible for the killing the wife, got him arrested and detained in Police cell in Abuja.
The in-laws also packed all the properties belonging to their late sister from the husband’s house in Abuja, while he was away in Imo State during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, according to Nwadigo.
Although, they were intercepted by an Estate security guard, who informed Mr Aguwa on phone of the development, but were later let off the hook because of the influence of Lt. Colonel AO Orji, after signing an undertaking and dropping photocopies of their identity cards.
That was not all. The sister in-laws obtained a letter of administration from court as next-of-kin and withdrew the sum of N14 million from Zenith Bank Account of the later sister in which the husband received the debits alert.
The husband reportedly engaged the service of a lawyer and obtained court order to return back the money, to Zenith or the GTBank Account of the late, but Zenith Bank refused to honour the order on grounds the account had already been closed and bank management in Lagos informed.
All efforts made to clarify from the Zenith Bank’s officials and the army officer in question was futile due to protocols.