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Industrial Court Urged To Jail Unity Bank CEO Tomi Somefun For Alleged Contempt

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The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has been asked to commence committal proceedings against the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun, and commit her to prison for allegedly flouting orders made by the court.

The request formed the relief in a motion filed by 25 ex-staff of the bank in whose favour the Lagos division of the NICN had given a monetary judgment on July 3, 2019.

The ex-staff, led by John Adeola Taiwo, stated, in the motion filed on December 2, 2019, that Unity Bank was in open disobedience to the orders made by the court on November 12, 2019, and therefore deserved to be committed to prison for allegedly being in disobedience of valid and extant court orders.

The ex-staff had individually sued the bank in 2016 alleging non- payment of some of their outstanding entitlements and gratuity.

The court later consolidated the suits with the consent of parties and on the grounds that the issues were related.

In a judgment on July 3, 2019, in the suit marked: NICN/LA/84/2019, Justice R. H. Gwandu held in favour of the ex-staff and ordered the bank to pay them various sums of money.

But rather than comply with the judgment, the bank appealed and applied to the court for a stay of execution pending the determination of its appeal.

In a ruling on November 12, 2019, Justice Gwandu granted a stay as prayed by the bank but upon certain conditions.

The judge, in the ruling, said: “By the powers vested in this Court under Order 64 Rule 8(3) and in the discretion of this court, I hereby grant the stay of execution of this judgment pending the outcome of the appeal.

“This goes with the condition that the judgment debtor pays the judgment sum into the account of the Chief Registrar, National Industrial Court (an interest yielding account), such judgment sum shall be released to the party that is victorious in the outcome of the appeal.

“The payment of the judgment sum is ordered to be made within five working days, failure of which shall be treated as contempt of orders of this court.”

The pronouncements of the judge are what Taiwo and others are now accusing the Unity Bank of flouting and in respect of which they seek the committal of the bank’s CEO in the fresh motion filed on December 2, 2019.

They argued, in court documents, that “the order of the court has been respected by the judgment debtor in the breach rather than observance, in spite of the stern warning by the court that failure to comply shall be treated as contempt.

“It is trite law that the order of a court of competent jurisdiction remains inviolate until set aside and so, anyone who an order is made against must obey it until the order is set aside or discharged. Once an order exists, it must be obeyed.

“It is a clear fact that, in spite of the clear and explicit order of this honourable court, directing the defendant/judgment debtor to pay the judgment sum into the court’s account with the name of the Chief Registrar, the defendant/judgment debtor has continued, with impunity, to do the exact opposite of the order of the court”.

They added that the alleged failure of the bank to pay the judgment sum into an interest yielding account within five days, as directed by the court, “is an outright disregard of the order of this honourable court, making the defendant/judgment debtor liable for contempt of court”.

They added that since the defendant/judgment debtor is not a natural person, the law allows that its principal officer is penalized.

“It is trite law that where the contemnor is not a natural person, it cannot be committed to prison, but the principal officer can.

“In this case, the defendant (a financial institution) is not a natural person, who can be committed for contempt thereby making any of its high ranking officers in the person of Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun, being the Managing Director, liable to be committed to prison for contempt of court.

“We urge this honourable court to grant them leave to proceed against Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun, the Managing Director of the defendant and to find her liable accordingly and commit her to prison for contempt of the order made on 12th November 2019”.

The bank is yet to respond to the fresh motion.

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Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Arabic Inscriptions On Naira Notes

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Justices Yellin Bogoro of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday, July 16, dismissed a suit by a Lagos-based lawyer, Malcom Omirhobo, challenging the use of Arabic inscriptions on Naira notes.

According to the judge, “the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is empowered by Section 53 (1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) to print, design and issue the currency and compels the need to establish bad faith before an action can be brought to challenge the act or omission of the Federal Government or the apex court.”

The court also held that the suit challenging the Arabic inscriptions on Naira notes failed to establish that the CBN’s powers were exercised in bad faith.

Omirhobo had filed the suit against the CBN in Jan. 2020 contending amongst other things that Arabic is not one of the four official languages of Nigeria namely English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. In the suit, the lawyer contended that Arabic is not indigenous to Nigeria and to have it on our country’s currency offends certain provisions of the Constitution.

The CBN, in its response, had filed a preliminary objection insisting that Omirhobo had no locus standi to file the matter. The bank also filed a defence.

Three other interested persons joined the suits as defendants, the Incorporated Trustees of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), its Founder, Ishaq Akintola; and a Kebbi-based legal practitioner, Umar Kalgo.

Ruling on the case, Justice Bogoro first dismissed the CBN’s preliminary objection and held that Omirhobo had the locus standi to institute the action of being a taxpayer. The court also held that public interest actions must be encouraged.

The court, however, held that Omirhobo failed to prove that the CBN acted Mala Fide, in bad faith and accordingly dismissed the suit.

In his reaction to the judgment, Omirhobo said he had applied for a Certified True Copy of the judgement and would study the same to decide his next line of action.

The lawyer also said the court noted that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and religious country and that no ethnic group or religion is superior to the other.

The lawyer claimed that the court held that Arabic is not Nigeria’s official Language and advised that for Nigerians to coexist in harmony, ‘perhaps it is time for the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government to remove the Arabic inscription on the N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes since it has been removed from the N5, N10, N50 and N100.’

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Kano: Gov Yusuf Reinstates Gaya Emir, Names Two Others For Karaye, Rano

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Kano State governor, Abba Yusuf has reinstated Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Aliyu Abdulkadir Gaya, and approved the appointment of two other second-class Emirs for Rano and Karaye.

According to a statement issued by the governor’s spokesperson, Sanusi Tofa, the new emirates are to serve as second with Kano as first-class emirate.

Yusuf named the newly appointed Alhaji Muhammad Karaye as the Emir of Karaye. He was the District Head of Rogo before his latest appointment.

Alhaji Muhammad Umar was named the Emir of Rano. He was the District Head of Bunkure before the latest appointment.

The statement added: “While congratulating the newly appointed Emirs, Governor Abba Yusuf enjoined them to be custodians of culture, peace, and unity of the people in their respective emirates.”

Recall that Governor Yusuf had on Tuesday signed into law three second class emirates in the state with Rano Emirate covering only Rano, Kibiya and Bunkure Local Government areas and Gaya Emirate covering only Gaya, Ajingi and Albasu Local Government areas while Karaye Emirate covers only Karaye and Rogo Local Government areas.

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Obasanjo, Ooni, Adeleke, Buratai, Oyinlola, Emir Of Biu, Others Storm Kuta For Olowu’s 60th Birthday

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The ancient town of Kuta was ago on Sunday as Olowu of Kuta, HRM Oba Dr Hameed Adekunle Makama Oyelude, CON, Tegbosun III, received dignitaries across Nigeria to celebrate his 60th birthday anniversary.

Prominent among the dignitaries were former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Ademola Adeleke, former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former chief of army staff, Gen TY Buratai rtd who also doubles as Balogun Agba Akin of Kuta and the executive chairman of federal character commission, Dr Muheeba Dankaka.

Traditional rulers at the ceremony include Ooni of Ife, HIM Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Olowu of Owu (Abeokuta) Oba Prof Saka Matemilola, Timi of Ede, HRM Oba Munirudeen Lawal and Emir of Biu, Alhaji Midala Mustapha Umar amongst others.

Speaking earlier with journalists, Oba Makama said he was elated to receive the creme de lacreme of the society at his 60th birthday.

The revered monarch said his 60th birthday anniversary was put together by his admirers, friends, and well wishers across the country.

He, however, advised that traditional rulers should adhere strictly to their mandate as Custodian of culture and traditions, adding that Obas are not installed to be religious leaders.

The 60th birthday was preceded by a series of events like Olowu Marathon, Walk For Life, and Healthcare/ medical checkup.

There were also fireworks at the dot of 12.00am on Sunday to herald Olowu Kuta into his 60th birthday.

The Marquee Tent, which served as the venue of the ceremony, was filled to its capacity.

The Bonsue Fuji Crooner, Adewale Ayuba, was a delight to watch as he dished out good music, relishing his bonsue style as guests also appreciated him.

Gen Buratai,who is a personal friend and confidant of Olowu Kuta, said he’s delighted to be part of the celebration of the monarch who has distinguished himself as detrabilised Nigerian.

Governor Adeleke, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, commended Olowu Kuta “as a delightful example of devotion to the people”.

The statement read; “The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke has rejoiced with the Olowu of Kuta, HRM Oba Hameed Adekunle Makama Oyelude (Tegbosun III), on the auspicious occasion of his birthday, describing him as a delightful example of devotion to the people.”

Governor Adeleke, who acknowledges Oba Oyelude, sustained efforts in fostering peace and harmony in his domain, noted that the monarch’s open door policy and soft power approach has engendered unity among subjects.

The Governor lauds Oba Oyelude’s steadfast observation of culture and traditions, adding that the monarch continues to inspire a great deal of interest in Yoruba’s rich heritage through appearances and utterances.

“On this auspicious day, I congratulate HRM Oba Hameed Adekunle Makama Oyelude (Tegbosun III). Oba Oyelude is a striking pointer of what purposeful leadership should look like considering the profound impact of his influence on subjects and Kuta town,” the governor noted in a congratulatory message.

“As he turns 60 years today, I join every sons and daughters of Kuta to celebrate Kabiyesi, and commend him for the incredible leadership he exudes just as I honour his commitment to fostering peace and stability by promoting harmony in his domain.

“It is my prayer that God Almighty will grant Kabiyesi more celebrations in good health, strength and wisdom so that he can continue to offer impactful leadership and also to contribute to the promotion of Yoruba’s culture, traditions and values.”

Also, Prince Oyinlola said Olowu Kuta’s ascending into the throne of his forebears has brought development to the ancient town.

He, however, wished Oba Makama long life and prosperity, as he journeyed ahead in his mandate as Custodian of culture and traditions.
Other side attractions include ‘Iwure’ by Chief Yemi Elebuibon, ‘Oriki’ by Ajobiewe.

The Osun State cultural troupe was a delight to watch, while a northern group based in Kano entertained the guests with the melodious songs laced with Hausa-Fulani traditions.

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