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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Merchant bank ordered to pay N8m to poly-parts company over land deal



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By Nwabueze Okonkwo

Onitsha – The High Court of Anambra State sitting at Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area of the state, presided over by Justice Irene Ndigwe has awarded the sum of N8 million as damages against FBN (Merchant Bankers Ltd), in favour of  Poly part International Ltd for selling a property which was a subject of litigation to the plaintiff.

The claimant, Poly Parts International Ltd had dragged the defendant, FBN (Merchant Bankers Ltd) to the court claiming the sum of N10 million from the bank for selling the property to it, without disclosing that the said property was a subject of litigation in court.

But in her judgement, shortly after evaluation of evidence adduced by both parties, through their respective witnesses, Justice Ndigwe awarded N8 million out of the N10 million being claimed as she upheld the submissions of Dr A. A. Orunkoya counsel to the claimant on the grounds that by virtue of section 135 of the Evidence Act, the burden of proving that the claimant was indeed informed of the litigations hovering on the property rest on the Bank.

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Justice Ndigwe further ruled that it was the duty of the Bank to prove when, where and how the claimant was informed, adding that since they failed to do this, the Bank is liable to pay damages to the claimant for breach of implied convenient of peaceable and quiet possession of the property.

The court also held that Dr A. A. Orunkoya counsel to the claimant was right in his submission that the Bank erred by selling the property that was subject of litigation, pointing out that the claimant suffered untold hardship due to its inability to take possession of the property it acquired until after seven years of protracted conflict.

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In the suit No 0/46/2005, the claimant, through its legal counsel, Dr A. A. Orunkoya contended that it waited for seven years from 2001 when it acquired the property till 2007 before it finally took possession of the property due to series of litigations hovering on the property which were not disclosed to it as at the time of purchase.

The Defendant, FBN (Merchant Bankers) after the close of evidence through its counsel Chima Umensofor Esq, argued that it informed the claimant that there were pending litigations but it proceeded to purchase the property.

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