The Yenagoa branch of Sterling Bank PLC is at the verge of being permanently closed, following its alleged disobedience to an order from a high court sitting in Yenagoa.
A firm, Specialty Engineering Dredging and Construction Company Ltd had dragged another company, Moreno PLC before the Bayelsa State high court on the ground that Moreno hired a dredging machine from Specialty and sank same in the course of using it, in 2013.
In its ruling, the court presided over by Justice E.T Okara had ordered Moreno PLC to pay the plaintiff the sum of N1.1 billion as compensation from its account with the Yenagoa branch of Sterling Bank.
General Manager of Specialty engineering dredging and construction firm, Edwin Harcourt said the court ordered Sterling bank to pay his company the compensation sum because the defendant had such an amount domiciled in the said bank.
Harcourt said "on March 14, 2019, we had a judgement against a company known as Moreno Plc. After the judgement, we filed garnishee proceedings against Sterling Bank and the high court presided over by Justice E.T Okara granted garnishee absolute against Sterling Bank, having looked at the facts of our submissions.
"The bank was therefore served with the writh of attachment to pay the judgement sum. Rather than pay the judgement sum, the bank started dilly-dallying. That is why the Bayelsa state high court ordered the shutdown of the bank by way of enforcing the judgement of the court.
"Sterling bank came into this matter because it has the money of Moreno PLC. A garnishee proceeding is a proceeding where a bank has a judgement debtor's money. You as the judgement creditor can get an order nisi, that is garnishee proceeding against the bank; that is what they call it in law.
"The court will now give an order compelling the bank to pay the judgement creditor which happens to be my company in this case. That is how Sterling Bank came into this matter. We don't have any problem with Sterling bank and the money we are asking for does not belong to Sterling Bank.
"The money belongs to Moreno but Sterling bank has refused to pay us the money. We have now filed a contempt proceeding against Sterling bank so that they can come and tell the court why they disobeyed the court order.
He said the court on Tuesday, ordered a temporary close down of the Yenagoa branch of Sterling Bank, a situation that caused serious panic among customers of the bank in Bayelsa state.
The high court ruling with suit number: BHC/5/2013 reads: "Upon the ruling delivered by His Lordship, Hon. Justice E. T Okara on the 14th day of March, 2019, it is hereby ordered as follows:
"That the said sums of money are attachable to satisfy the judgement sum in the substantive suit, following the above, the Garnishee Order Nisi made on the 12th of November, 2018 is hereby made absolute in attachment of the said sum.
"An order to the Garnishee bank (Sterling bank) to pay over forthwith to the applicant judgement creditor so much of the said sum as are sufficient to satisfy the judgement sum in the suit being the unpaid sum of N900, 000,000.00 already attached by the deputy sheriff of the high court of Bayelsa state.
"That a further award of five percent interest post judgement per annum of the sum of 900,000,000.00 from January, 2014, till date being the 14th day of March, 2019 totalling N225,620,500.00 only attachable to satisfy the judgement debt.
"The total sum of one billion, one hundred and twenty-five million, three hundred and twelve thousand, five hundred naira (N1,125, 312,500.00) only attachable to satisfy the judgement debt. I make no further orders as to cost.”