Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has ordered the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to pay the N540 million damages awarded against it by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for defaming a cleric Prophet Emmanuel Omale of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry and his wife, Deborah.
Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the FCT, on October 4, 2022, ruled that the bank negligently violated its duty of care towards the claimants – Omale, his wife, and their church – by falsely asserting that the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, deposited N573 million into the church’s account.
It was alleged that the said money was used to buy a property in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr Magu was at the time being investigated for alleged money laundering.
The judge further noted that the bank claimed that the purported N573m was wrongly reflected as credit entry in the church’s account.
However, in a February 1, 2024 ruling which the news media got hold of on Sunday, the appellate court rejected FCMB’s request for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the determination of its appeal.
Instead, a three-member panel presided over by Justice Muhammed Shuaibu granted a conditional stay of the execution of the judgment by ordering the bank to pay the judgment sum of N540million into an interest yeilding account in the name of the court’s chief registrar.
The Appeal Court said: “The application is granted as prayed in terms of the first prayer in the appellant’s motion filed on 3/11/2022.
“Consequently, conditional stay of execution of the judgment is hereby granted to the appellant.
“The condition being that the judgment sum shall be deposited into an interest yielding bank account of the court to be opened by the Chief Registrar of this court within 48 hours of the grant of this order.”
The court then adjourned further hearing till a date to be communicated to parties by the court’s registry.