FCMB deposits N540m awarded to Prophet Omale in accordance with court order

The First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has deposited the sum of N540 million awarded to Prophet Emmanuel Omale for defamation, in an interest-yielding account.

The money was paid to the account of the chief registrar of the court of appeal in Abuja at Premium Trust Bank on February 8, 2024.

The payment is sequel to an order of the court of the appellate court.

Omale is the general overseer of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry.

In 2020, the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) said Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), allegedly used a cleric to launder funds abroad.

Omale’s name was reportedly uncovered during an investigation of the EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

According to the report, the cleric bought a landed property worth N573 million in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on behalf of Magu.

The cleric, however, denied the allegations.

Reacting to the investigations, Adam Nuru, managing director of FCMB, said the bank made an error of posting N573 million into the church account of Omale.

On October 4, 2022, a federal high court, presided by Yusuf Halilu, a judge, ordered the FCMB to pay N540.5 million damages to Omale and his wife, Deborah, over a false claim that they laundered N573 million for Magu.

But dissatisfied with the verdict of the FCT high court, the FCMB, through Wale Olawoyin, its lead lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), filed a notice of appeal dated October 5, 2022, against the judgment.

In its notice of appeal, the FCMB argued that it would be highly prejudiced by any step to execute or enforce the judgment as the action would render nugatory, its appeal before the appellate court.

According to the financial institution, “there is a real and high risk that it would suffer irreparable damage in the event that its application is refused and the appeal is successful.”

Opposing FCMB’s motion for stay of execution of the lower court’s judgment, Goddy Uche and Kanayo Okafor, the lawyers representing the Omales, argued that the bank’s application was brought in utmost bad faith to merely frustrate and delay without any justification.

On February 1, the three-member panel of the appellate court, led by Mohammed Shuaibu, gave a conditional stay of execution on the judgment of the lower court.

The appeal court directed FCMB to deposit the N540.5 million within 48 hours in an account to be operated by the chief registrar of the appeal court.

“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 appellate court said.

In a letter dated February 2 and addressed to Yemisi Edun, managing director of FCMB, Uche, counsel of the cleric, said if the order of the court is not obeyed, the respondents will be left with no choice to commence contempt proceedings against Edun.

“May we also bring to your knowledge the fact that this conditional stay of execution was a consent order having been consented to by M.S. Hamza Esq. who held your brief for the Appellant,” the letter reads.

The counsel warned that if the judgment sum of N540,500,000 “is not immediately deposited with the Court of Appeal as directed in the enrolled order of Court, we shall commence contempt proceedings against the Managing Director of First City Monument Bank, to commit her to Prison for disobedience to order of the Court”.

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