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First Bank Plc Loses N61.4m Judgment Sum Appeal

Efforts by First Bank Plc to upturned the N61.4m judgment sum awarded against it by a Lagos High Court met a brick wall.

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An Appeal Court presiding in Lagos has dismissed First Bank Plc appeal against N61.4m judgment, for lacking in merit.

First Bank Plc had approached the Appellate Court to upturned the N61.4m million judgment sum awarded against it by a Lagos High Court.

in the appeal marked CA/LAG/CV/653/2019, the three man-panel presided over by Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua, also awarded a cost of N200,000 against First Bank Plc in favour of Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN).

MCSN had sometimes in 2016, dragged First Bank Plc before a Lagos High Court, for the bank’s refusal to pay MCSN the sum of N61,436,548.90 million, collected on its behalf, being copyright license renewal fees, which was due for payment since May 5, 2011.

It consequently asked for an order against First Bank Plc, for payment of N61,436,548.90 million.

MCSN had also sought an order for payment of interest at the 21 percent from May 6, 2016, until the entire judgment sum is fully Liquidated.

Read Also: How First Bank Officials Aid N900m POS Fraud

But the First Bank in response to the suit, challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain, hear and determine the suit, on the ground that the suit brought against it fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

First Bank Plc had argued that the respondent, MCSN failed to comply with the provision of Section 17 and 39 of the Copyright Act, Cap. C. 24, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Delivering ruling on the preliminary objection, the lower Court in its ruling on March 20, 2017 held that: “It is very unambiguous that the amount being claimed by the Claimant is “copyright license renewal fees” and hence its claim has nothing to do with any allegation of infringement of copyright.

“Thus Section 17 of the Copyright Act is inapplicable. The Federal High Court ruling above referred had laid this issue to rest when it held that Claimant case had nothing to do with copyright infringement as the applicant had been licensed already.

“So, it is if the Applicant had not been licensed or authorized that section 14 and invariably section 17 of the Court of Appeal may become applicable. Case of Compact Disc Technologies & 2 ors vs. Musical Copyright Society and Court of Appeal decision in Musical Right Society of Nigeria limited vs. NCC (supra) have no bearing on this case. While the former relates to effect of failure to obtain approval of the copyright commission by collecting society on action for infringement of copyright, the latter only addressed the niode of instituting the case therein. I refer in particular two paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the Claimant’s Statement of Claim to hold Clement possesses the locus standi to institute this case.

“I therefore, dismiss the preliminary objection for being an abuse of Court process, misconceived and completely wasting time”.

Displeased with the lower Court decision, First Bank Plc approached the Appeal Court and filed a Notice of Appeal on March 23, 2017, which was anchored on three issues.

Also Read: How First Bank Goofed in N.5B Debt Recovery

The issues raised by First Bank are: Whether the lower Court was right in law when it held that the Respondent had the locus standi to commence the suit for recovery of license fees and as such the conditions prescribed by sections 17 and 39 were inapplicable to the Respondent’s claims?

“Whether the lower Court was right in law when it held that the Appellant’s Preliminary Objection to the claims of the Respondent at the lower Court was an abuse of Court process?

“Whether the lower Court was right when It held that it had jurisdiction to entertain the Respondent’s claims and thereby dismissed the Appellant’s Preliminary Objection?

Whereas, MCSN only raised one issue in response to the bank’s appeal, which was “Whether the lower Court was right in law, when it held that it had jurisdiction to entertain the respondent’s claim, and thereby dismissed the appellant’s (First Bank) preliminary objection?

Delivering judgment on the appeal, Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua, after citing plethoras of legal authorities, held that: “to determine this appeal, this Court, having regard to the decision of the Lower Court deems the lone issue propagated by the respondent more appropriate for determination herein.

“I have carefully considered the provisions of section 17 of the Copyright Act, 2004, and the cases cited by the appellant (First Bank Plc) in its Brief particularly, the judgment of this Court in Compact Disc Technologies vs. Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte (6, I.P.L.R.) and wish to observe that the Supreme Court had since the 14th December, 2018 overturned the said decision of this Court therein, allowed the appeal and set aside the said decision of this Court.

“Therefore, that no longer serves as an authority on the interpretation of section 17 of the Copyright Act as it relates to in what capacity a person can sue.

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“It is clear that section 17 placed restrictions on actions involving infringement of copyright or any right under the Act. Section 17 says that “Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act, or any other law, no action for infringement of copyright or any right under this Act shall be commenced or maintained by any person (a) Carrying on the business of negotiating and granting of licences; (b) collecting and distributing royalties in respect of copyright works or representing more than fifty owners of copyright in any categories of works by this Act unless, it is approved under Section 39 of this Act to operate as Collecting Society of otherwise issued with a certificate of exemption by the Commission”.

“The claims for payment of debts owed by the appellant (First Bank) to the respondent (MCSN) cannot by any stretch of elongation or interpretation be construed to mean an action for an infringement of copy copyright.

“It is clear that the appellant (First Bank Plc) read section 17 of the Copyright Act out of context and then assumed that the Respondent instituted the action as a Collecting Society.

“Accordingly, I find no merit in this appeal and hereby dismiss the same with N200,000 costs against the Appellant (First Bank Plc) in favour of the Respondent (MCSN).

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Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and occupied same office with Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

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EFCC Narrates How Customer Lose N1.8bn in Sterling Bank Plc Care

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, commence trial against a Sterling Bank Plc official over N1.8bn alleged fraud

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The eagle eye of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has caught up with a banker working for Sterling Bank Plc over N1.8bn alleged fraud.

An official of the bank, Ifeanyichukwu Shallom Isituah and a businessman, Ighodaro Austin Osaretin was alleged to steal the sum of N1,790,558,000 belonging to a customer of the bank, Wells Procurement Limited with account number – 0016798848.

The matter has since been dragged to court after thorough investigation by the anti graft agency.

An EFCC Investigator, Adamu Mohammed, told Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, that the agency received a petition with reference No: SB/IAG/12/EFCC/011 duly signed by the Head IT and Head Intelligence and Investigation on behalf of Sterling Bank.

Mohammed, who works with the Team C Cybercrime department of the EFCC, while testifying on oath, said that the petitioner alleged that a customer’s bank account was profiled via internet banking and the said sum was diverted to various individuals and companies.

While led in evidence by the prosecutor, N. M. Anana, the witness testified that preliminary investigation by the bank revealed that the second defendant’s profile, Isituah, a female, was used to initiate the account on internet banking and more than 24 accounts got the same amount of money.

Also Read: Alleged N111.5billion Revenue Fraud Reports Indicts Zenith Bank

“Investigation letters were sent to FCMB, Zenith, First Bank, Fidelity Bank and Access Bank. Responses were received from the banks and the statement of accounts were analysed and the analysis revealed that most of the company’s accounts the money was transferred to were BDC (Bureau de Change) operators.

“Some of them reside in Abuja, Kaduna and there was one address that we suspected to live in Lagos, Ndifreke Roberts. But all efforts to trace the address of Kaduna, Lagos and Abuja suspects did not yield any information to help the commission get them.

“On March 10, 2020, the DSS handed over the two defendants to the commission under the instruction of the AGF (attorney-general of the Federation) for further investigation. The two defendants’ statements were voluntarily taken under caution.

“The first defendant revealed that he has a company called Universal Agriculture Empowerment Initiative as an NGO which received the sum of sixty million naira as part of the transfer from that Sterling Bank customer’s account. He further stated that the money was received from one Osaretin (second defendant) and transferred to his account as a donation.

“That he introduced one of his friends who is the owner of Villavon International School who also received one hundred million naira from the said fraud.

“He further stated that he called a BDC in the name of Damo who owns Damoo Ten Ventures. Damo was invited to the commission and he volunteered a statement that the first defendant contacted him and he transferred sixty million naira to various accounts and further instructed the owner of the International School to transfer ninety-five million naira.

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“The dollar equivalent was received in cash by the first defendant. The first defendant further stated that the money was used at IDP camps around the country. I cannot remember the specific location but he mentioned a place in Borno and Adamawa, the witness said.

However, during cross examination by the defence lawyer, A. Okenile, the EFCC operative said that Sterling Bank gave the commission the information that the second defendant profiled the account for the alleged fraud.

When asked what links the second defendant to the alleged fraud, Mohammed said, “the offence was committed at Sterling Bank and it was reported. The offence took place during a public holiday and the bank realized it on December 28. The accounts of the customer we are talking about has never been profiled for internet banking. So we had to understand how it was transferred, which was through internet banking.

“The bank said the account doesn’t have internet banking access and it was a staff that did it and the second defendant’s profile was used to connect the account to internet banking. Without that profiling money cannot be transferred from that account.

“Even when the bank tried to contact her, she ran away. She was nowhere to be found. Not until the Department of State Services (DSS) traced, arrested her and handed her over to the commission”.

The matter was further adjourned till October 19 for continuation of trial.

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Suru Homes Boss, Edward Akinlade in Alleged Messy N1.7Billion Deal

Suru Homes Boss, Edward Akinlade in alleged nessy N1.7Billion fraud over selling property he had used as collateral for a Fidelity bank loan.

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The Chief Executive Officer, CEO of Suru Homes Ltd, Edward Akinlade has been arraigned at an Ikeja Special Offences Court for allegedly selling property he had used as collateral for a Fidelity bank loan.

Akinlade and his company were arraigned on a 10-count charge of stealing and issuance of dud cheques proffered against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The defendants plead not guilty to the charges.

According to the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Temitope Banjo, Akinlade committed the offences sometime in 2017 in Lagos.

“The defendant with an intent to defraud, converted the property situated at No. 11A Lawson Adeyemi St., Ikoyi, Lagos by selling it without the knowledge of the bank and diverting the proceeds of the sale.

“The property was part of a legal mortgage he had used as an part of a collateral to secure a loan of N1.7 Billion loan he had obtained from Fidelity Bank Plc,”the EFCC prosecutor said.

Banjo noted that on Sept. 8, 2017, the CEO issued nine separate dud Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB checks of N10million each to Fidelity Bank Plc.

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“When the cheques were presented for payment, they were dishonoured on the grounds that no sufficient funds were standing in the credit of the account,” he said.

The offences violate Sections 1(1)(a)(b) and 2 of the Dishonoured Cheques Offences Act 2004 and Section 284 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

After the arraignment, the defence counsel, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN) told the court that he only became aware of the charges the EFCC had filed against Akinlade the previous day.

The SAN noted that in response, he had filed a bail application and had just served a copy of the application to the EFCC.

Responding, the EFCC prosecutor acknowledged receipt of the bail application and told the court that needed some time to respond to it.

“My lord, the charges have been filed since 2020 and it was impossible and very difficult to arrest the defendant until yesterday.

“The Bank Fraud Section of the EFCC on several occasions put calls across to the defendant to no avail.

Read Also: SFU Opens Trial Of Syndicate who Theft N.9Billion From FCMB

“He jumped administrative bail and he is being investigated by four sections of the EFCC,” Banjo said.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo in a ruling granted Akinlade bail in the sum of N30million with two sureties in like sum.

“One surety shall be a legal practitioner and the second surety shall be a close relative of the defendant.

“The sureties shall swear to an affidavit of means and their home and office addresses shall be verified by the court,” she said.

The case was adjourned until Oct. 11 for trial.

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BDC Operator Yakub in Court Over Alleged N197m Fraud

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A Bureau De Change, BDC Operator, Yusuf Yakub has been dragged to court over allegations of misappropriation of funds and N197m Fraud

Yakub was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before a Kano State High Court on a count charge.

The defendant was said to have allegedly obtained the sum of $870,000 only from the complainant under the pretext of changing same to Naira but returned only the sum of N220, 300,000 and diverted the balance of N197, 600,000.

Yakub however pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him.

Upon his not guilty plea, the EFCC counsel, Musa Isah however asked the court for a trial date.

Also Read: N7m Fraud: Ponzi Scheme Operator, Umoren Edet Gets Conviction

In a counter reaction, Counsel to the defendant, Abdul Adamu informed the court that he had filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court.

Subsequently, the presiding judge, Justice Sanusi Ma’aji, granted the defendant bail in the sum of Fifty Million Naira with two sureties in like sum.

According to the judge, one of the sureties must be a relative of the defendant and both must also be residents of Kano. Their business addresses must also be verified.

The matter was thereafter adjourned till August 18 for argument on the motion.

The Charge reads; “that Yakubu Yusuf on or about 14 of January 2021 within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, with intent to defraud, dishonestly and misappropriated the said sum belonging to Oliver Ogokumaka and Obumnemi Okoli and thereby committed an offense contrary to section 308 and punishable under section 309 of the Penal Code.”

 

 

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