N1bn suit: Pinnacle asks court to dismiss ICPC’s objection

Pinnacle Communications Ltd (PCL) has asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to dismiss a preliminary objection filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), challenging a suit it instituted against the anti-graft agency and Zenith bank PLC.

PCL had in July 2018, dragged ICPC and Zenith bank to court for unlawfully withholding its money domicile in the bank without a valid court order, and is consequently claiming N1billion against the agency as damages.

At a resumed hearing on Wednesday, following the adoption of ICPC’s preliminary objection by its counsel, the trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo fixed January 31, 2020 for the ruling.

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In adopting the preliminary objection of ICPC, Nneka Chukwuma-okere, urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for being academical, having been resolved in a ruling delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, on December 14, 2018.

However, in opposition to the preliminary objection, counsel to the plaintiff, Ama Etuwewe (SAN) urged the court to dismiss the objection of ICPC, because PCL claim “is declaratory in nature” and that as fact “that declaratory reliefs cannot be granted without evidence proffered by the plaintiff In the witness box”.

Etuwewe stated that the Court has jurisdiction to entertain the suit as there are substantial issues to be tried.

The plaintiff stated that “there is no provision in the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 that empowers the ICPC to exercise judicial powers and also the administrative act of the 1st Defendant/Applicant in ordering the 2nd Defendant to freeze Plaintiff’s account with the 2nd Defendant is ultra vires the 1st Defendant and is therefore illegal, unlawful and oppresive”.

He said it will be in the interest of justice to refuse the ICPC application.

Also, a motion by the 2nd defendant urging dismissal of the suit was opposed by the plaintiff.

Zenith bank, through its counsel, Emeka Ojukwu had in his preliminary objection claimed that the action it took by withholding the account of PCL was a “lawful act”.

By the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/779/18, Pinnacle Communications is, among other reliefs, seeking, “An order for the payment of the one billion naira as general, exemplary and punitive damages against the defendant for their unlawful and illegal act”.

 

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