A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned until November 18 to adopt written addresses in a suit between Ecobank Plc and Obat Oil and Petroleum Ltd over an Abuja Hotel.
Justice H. B. Babangida fixed the date at the last hearing of the suit (October 29) after Obat Oil, through its counsel Olalekan Ojo filed its counter-affidavit and written address to the bank's October 18, 2019 motion on notice.
The firm is challenging the bank's application seeking leave for an order to attach and sell the property.
Ecobank is the judgment/creditor/applicant in the suit while Obat Oil and Petroleum Ltd is the judgment debtor /respondent.
The judgment debt Ecobank is seeking to realise is a consent judgment of N5 billion.
It filed a motion on October 18 seeking leave of court to issue a writ of attachment and sale of the immovable property of the judgment/debtor known as Febson Hotels & Malls, situate at plot 2425 Herbert
Macaulay Way, Abuja, in realisation of the judgment debt.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, Ojo informed the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit and written address to the applicant's motion on notice.
The respondent's counsel averred that the applicant had divested itself of the interest in the judgment debt, having assigned same to ETI Specialised Finance Company Ltd by an April 5, 2017 letter.
The applicant's counsel, Kunle Ogunba, confirmed receipt of the respondent’s counter-affidavit.
He informed the court of his readiness to take the application without the need to file any response to the said respondent’s counter-affidavit and written address.
Ojo equally indicated his readiness to argue the said judgment/creditor/applicant’s motion on notice.
Ogunba moved his motion, but delved into the counter-affidavit and written address of the respondent by making oral submissions of law in reply to the respondent’s counter-affidavit and written address.
Ojo opposed him.
He challenged the propriety of a counsel to make oral submissions in reply to a motion on notice, having regard to Order 43 (1)(4) of the FCT High Court Civil Procedure rules 2018 and the conscious decision of Ogunba to waive his right of reply in open court .
Ojo stressed that a counsel should swim or sink with his election.
Justice Babangida upheld his argument.
The judge directed Ogunba to confine himself to his motion on notice having regard to his election not to file a reply.
Following over one hour of arguments on the permissibility or otherwise of oral reply, the court requested both senior counsel to file a written address on whether or not counsel can make oral reply to the respondent’s written address in view of Order 43(1)(4).
Order 43(1)(4) specifies what is expected of an applicant to whom a written address has been served.
Ogunba then informed the court that he would include his reply on points of law in the written address ordered to be filed by the court and to file a reply affidavit, if necessary.
Responding, Justice Babangida stated that he would give a consolidated ruling on all the issues of law counsel may eventually raise.
He adjourned the case until November 18 for adoption of written addresses and possible continuation of hearing of the October 18, 2019 motion on notice.