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Honeywell: Ecobank erred to already sealed understanding—Court rules

A Federal High Court in Lagos, last week ruled that Honeywell’s payment of N3.5 Billion between 2013 and 2014 constitutes the full and final settlement of its indebtedness to Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
Trouble had started in August 2015, when two members of Honeywell Group, Anchorage Leisures Ltd, Honeywell Flour Mills Plc. and Siloam Global Limited went to court to seek for the determination of whether the companies were truly indebted to the bank following the payment of the sum of N3.5 billion as full and final settlement of their obligations.
Justice Olayinka Faji, in his judgment agreed with Honeywell lead counsel that the valid agreement reached at various meetings between representatives of Honeywell and Ecobank on the July 22, 2013, was fully complied with when it completed paying N3.5 Billion between 2013 and 2014.
The court made it clear that Ecobank’s move to introduce new terms to the agreement has no place in law as all through the course of the instalment payments made by Honeywell, Ecobank never raised any objections to the payments hence the amount being claimed by the bank was not at any time mentioned in the meetings or a series of correspondence with Honeywell.
The court had relied on convincing testimony by Honeywell Group’s Head of Treasury and Finance, Oluwakemi Owasanoye, that the bank agreed to merge the collective indebtedness of Honeywell’s three subsidiaries, which amounted to N3.5billion in their meeting of July 22, 2015.
The sealed understanding was that whereas an initial N500million be paid immediately, the balance of N3billion would be paid before the exit of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) examiners from the bank which was complied to the letters without any objection from Ecobank Nigeria.
During cross-examination, Ecobank’s witness, Mr Elemi Agbor, Head of Corporate Communications failed to substantiate his claims that the agreement for the payment was for a two-term payment only which means that after initial payment of N500m, the balance must come later
Efforts to find out if Ecobank will challenge the judgment in appellate court failed as at press time.