Heritage Bank Faces Another Setback as Abuja Industrial Court Seals its Premises, Moves All Valuables
It could be recalled that Honourable Justice (Dr.) I.J. Essien had ordered the Inspector General of Police Olukayode Egbetokun in a court order to ensure police security for the Court’s Sheriffs to executing the Court’s directive to shut down operations of Heritage Bank with immediate effect.
After the incident that occurred on the 8th of August 2023, which was widely publicized in most national dailies and debunked by the bank, the Abuja Industrial Court has once again sealed and removed all valuables from Heritage Bank PLC. This has resulted in the suspension of the Bank activities in Abuja.
It is possible to recall that Honorable Justice (Dr.) I.J. Essien had instructed the Inspector General of Police Olukayode Egbetokun in a court order to ensure police security for the Court's Sheriffs to executing the Court's decision to shut down activities of Heritage Bank with immediate effect.
This order was in line with the judgment that was issued in a garnishee order that had been granted against Heritage Bank in litigation number MCN/MKD/07m/202 that had been brought by Shehu Mudi.
The garnishee order issued by the National Industrial Court, which has its seat in Makurdi, the capital city of Benue State, mandates the immediate closure of Heritage Bank Limited. This is because the bank has failed to pay an amount that is greater than N710 million to Shehu Mudi and 656 other organizations.
The court did not change its mind and maintained its position that the bank's branches must remain closed until the bank fully complies with the requirements specified in the garnishee order.
Justice Essien noted that the garnishee company, which was Heritage Bank, had become a barrier to the process of justice being carried out in a timely manner.
The judge stated that when evaluating the arguments and the exhibits, he recalled that the court had made an Order Absolute in Exhibit A, which prescribed that the Garnishee should return the Judgment amount that was being sought through this application within a span of three days. The judge added that while he was reviewing the exhibits and the arguments, he recalled that the court had made an Order Absolute in Exhibit A.
According to him, this particular order was validated even further by the Court of Appeal, and the confirmation of that validation can be seen in Exhibit D, which is located inside the Court's ruling and is documented as Appeal Number CA(MK/26/2022).
He went on to say that as part of this judgment, the Garnishee had been given the express instruction to satisfy the judgment debt within a period of three days.
Unfortunately, in spite of the several orders that have been given by this Court as well as the Court of Appeal, the Garnishee has continued to flagrantly disobey the mandate that was outlined in the Order issued by this Court.
The judge made the following ruling: Further to this, despite the Garnishee's undertaking to pay the Judgement sum to anywhere located in Nigeria until the Garnishee (Heritage Bank PLC), comply with the Order of the Court of Appeal directing it to pay to the judgment creditor the sum of N710,969,140.19 which is made up of the judgment sum and interest accrued from 14/12/2021 to December 2022 which sum has been set aside by the Garnish
Akinola George Taylor, who was in charge of the Heritage Bank PLC at the time, disregarded the rule of law by breaking the court seal in order to obtain access to the documents. The bank continued to conduct business as usual, ignoring the authority of the court, and it proceeded to send out a reply denying the story in an obvious attempt to deceive its customers.
The response ran as follows: "the attention of Heritage Bank Plc ("the Bank") has been called to stories in the media falsely suggesting that a National Industrial Court sitting in Makurdi, Benue State has shut down the activities of Heritage Bank PLC over an outstanding debt.
The Bank would want to reassure the general public that the rumor in question is completely unfounded. We want to reassure all of our valued clients that no one claiming to be a judgment creditor has taken control of any of the bank's branches. We would like to assure you that your deposits are safe and sound, and that the bank will, as always, conduct its business in accordance with applicable laws.
The issue between the Bank and the alleged Judgment Creditors is currently sub judice since it is the subject of lawsuits that are pending before the National Industrial Court, the Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Nigeria. These courts are all located in Nigeria. The Bank is assisting the relevant law enforcement agencies in their investigations into these matters and is working to ensure that any lawbreakers who are discovered will be brought to justice as quickly as possible.
Heritage Bank is a corporate organization that abides by the law and is devoted to promoting financial inclusion and making a contribution to the economic growth of Nigeria. Heritage Bank's management is dedicated to achieving the bank's overarching goal of creating value for all of the institution's stakeholders through the use of outstanding market knowledge, operational excellence, and a culture that values integrity.
Today, September 27th, 2023, Leadership was present as the Abuja Industrial Count once again followed up with a new Executive that not only sealed almost all of the Heritage Bank PLC Branches and the Zonal Headquarters but also relocated all of the Bank's valuables, including cars, generators, computers, air conditioners, and many other items, and deactivated all of the Bank's servers in order to halt the Bank's activities.
Under the new management of Akinola George Taylor, who is not a law-abiding individual, as can be shown, and who has consistently mislead both his customers and the media, Heritage Bank has continued to lose the battle for its ability to remain in business. If they are able to behave improperly toward a Court of Law in such a manner, then one can only guess what they will do to a common man. This causes one to wonder.
A bank that tells lies to its customers, disobeys court orders, and labels court sheriffs who are performing their jobs as "Identified Lawbreakers" is not likely to be trusted with the financial well-being of anyone. Regrettably, George-Taylor's Heritage Bank may be forced to seek assistance from the "Identified Law Breakers" in order to rectify the situation; else, business may never again be normal.