Lagos High Court to rule on N96.8m award granted Obanikoro against NBC

An Ikeja, Lagos High Court has set 11th July, 2017 to rule on a motion brought before it by the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC), bottlers of the famed Coca-Cola soft drinks. The company is seeking to set aside an order of garnishment placed on its accounts at five banks in respect to a N96.8m judgment awarded in favour of former Senator and Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.

The erstwhile Senator sued NBC in 2010 in an Edo High Court seeking monetary damages for an accident involving one of NBC’s trucks along the Lagos – Benin highway which claimed the lives of three occupants of another vehicle that was transporting the daughter of the senator, Abidemi Obanikoro. The driver of the car, a police orderly that was accompanying the occupants of the vehicle and the daughter’s friend, Ibukun Adeniyi died in the accident. The senator’s daughter, Abidemi Obanikoro, the only survivor in the vehicle sustained life threatening injuries and had to be airlifted to South Africa for medical treatment.

Six years after the suit was filed in Auchi, Edo State, the court ruled in favour of the Obanikoros, awarding them N96.8m against NBC.

The court awarded the sum of $184,000 (N76.7m) to cover Abidemi’s hospital bills in South Africa; R48,779.66 (N1.07m) was awarded for her hotel accommodation and N10m was awarded to Mrs. Agnes Akele, the widow of the driver of the vehicle.

The court also awarded N1.5m to Obanikoro as expenses incurred on behalf of his late driver and police orderly; another N10m was awarded to his daughter as general damages for her pain and suffering.

NBC appealed the judgement. However, Obanikoro, through his counsel, Lawal Pedro (SAN) registered the judgement before a Lagos High Court since NBC Corporate headquarters is domiciled in Lagos State.

The former senator subsequently obtained a garnishment order against five banks where NBC accounts are held.

The soft drinks giant on Wednesday, through its counsel, Ademola Isaac Olawoye (SAN) appealed the garnishment order against it and asked the court to set aside the order as it lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He argued that since an appeal has been filed in respect of the judgement delivered by an Edo High Court, no other court can adjudicate on the matter.

In response, the counsel for the plaintiff, Lawal Pedro (SAN) asked the court to disregard the argument of the judgment debtor as there is no evidence before the court to show that an appeal was filed against the plaintiff in Edo high Court.

Pedro further argued that the appeal documents tendered by the defense counsel before the court has no official appeal court stamp, no appeal number and no evidence that the appeal has been transmitted.

Additionally, he argued that the order for stay of proceeding supposedly obtained by the defendant cannot prevent a garnishment proceeding.

Pedro noted that the garnishment action is a separate proceeding and cannot be affected by a stay of execution which the defendant had obtained from the Edo High Court that delivered the judgement.

He urged the court to disregard the argument of the defendant and allow the garnishment to proceed.

Justice Kazeem Alogba, the presiding judge adjourned the case to 11 July 2017 for ruling.

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