If everything is to go by the books, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Oluwatomi Somefun may end up behind prison bars for allegedly flouting orders made by a court.
This is evident in a motion filed by 25 ex-staff of the bank who were favored in a monetary judgment by the Lagos division of the National Industrial Court Nigeria (NICN).
According to the motion filed on December 2, 2019, Unity Bank Plc we learned, was in defiance to the orders made by the court on November 12, 2019. An act which can be punishable by imprisonment as it was a direct disregard of valid and extent court orders.
Findings by SecretReporters revealed that the crux of the matter was a judgment on July 3, 2019 in a suit marked NICN/LA/84/2019 in which Justice R. H. Gwandu after being presented with the case of alleged non-payment of some outstanding entitlements and gratuity of the 25 ex-staff held in their favor, ordered the bank to pay them various sums of money.
Rather than comply with the judgment, Unity Bank through its legal team appealed and applied to the court for a stay of execution pending the determination of its appeal of the judgment. Justice Gwandu honorably granted the appeal but with conditions that the bank pay the proposed sum into the account of the Chief Registrar, National Industrial Court.
Following the outcome of the appeal, Justice Gwandu stated that the sum including the interest generated by depositing the money in the court’s Interest-yielding account will be paid to the party that emerges victorious.
“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.”
Interestingly, this pronouncement by the judge forms the base on which the 25 ex-staff are now seeking the committal of the bank’s CEO as the figure head of Unity Bank Plc for disobeying the court orders in the fresh motion filed on December 2, 2019.
They further argued 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 honorable court, making the defendant or judgment debtor liable for contempt of court”.
Since the defendant or judgment debtor, in this case Unity Bank Plc, is not a natural person, the law allows that its principal officer be penalized. However, Unity Bank Plc under the leadership of Mrs Oluwatomi Somefun is yet to respond to the fresh motion.