Appeal Court Exonerate Zenith Bank, Upturns High Court Judgement Slam Fine on Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited - AfrobadooTV
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Appeal Court Exonerate Zenith Bank, Upturns High Court Judgement Slam Fine on Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited

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After several months of legal tussle between Zenith Bank Plc v Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Gombe State, a three-man panel in the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos led by Justice Muhammed Sirajo in Appeal No:CA/LAG/CV/262/2022 – have unanimously upturned the Lagos State High Court judgment of Justice O. O. Abike-Fadipe over claims that; on March 8, 2022, there was a breach of contract because on October 7, 2011, Zenith Bank refused Real Integrated to withdraw from its Account No. 1012465427. In her judgment, she directed Zenith bank to pay an interest of 15 per cent per annum on the N872,780,522.84 from May 17, 2011, when the advanced payment guarantees expired till judgment and thereafter at the rate of 10 per cent per annum until final liquidation

 

Through Zenith Bank’s team of counsel led by Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, SAN and Mr Sylva Ogwemoh, SAN, the bank challenged Justice O. O. Abike-Fadipe’s decision of awarding N2,500,000 as the cost of the action in favour of Real Integrated. The legal team via valid argument backed by proofs argued and sought an order setting aside the lower court decision on the ground that it acted in full compliance with its contractual obligations in line with the Advanced Payment Guarantee (APG) contract and that the trial court was wrong. The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision on November 23, agreed with the bank’s submission and resolved all the issues raised in its favour. It was gathered that; the 1st Respondent, through its Counsel, E.O Jakpa, argued that the bank breached the contract while SUBEB Gombe State did not contest the Appeal.

Apart from the appellate court setting aside the judgment of Justice Abike-Fadipe, the judge also awarded a cost of N200,000 against Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited and in favour of Zenith Bank. The appeal court further stated that the lower court judgment was upturned on the ground that the trial court was wrong to have presumed that the bank withheld the full account statement of Real Integrated in the light of Exhibit C6 (the comprehensive Statement of Account of Real Integrated), which was tendered by the bank for a limited purpose, adding that there was no need for the lower court to have invoked Section 167 (d) of the Evidence Act, 2011 against the bank.

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Lagos blue rail will convey 250,000 passengers daily

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THE Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has described the completed 250, 000-passenger Blue Rail train project as a milestone that came through several reforms in the state’s transportation sector, stating that the first-phase of the project will be operational in January.

The governor stated this on Wednesday during the test-running of the mono-rail and events to mark the completion of the first phase of Lagos rail mass transit held at the National Theatre Blue Line Station, Iganmu, Lagos.

Also, the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, explained that the train passengers will use the state’s unified electronic payment system known as cowry card currently being used for Bus Rapid Transit and regulated ferry services.

She said, “In our projection, we reckon that this phase of the rail project would move no less than 250,000 passengers daily, while the entire line when completed would move more than 500,000 passengers.

“Construction of the Blue Line has been one of the most challenging projects undertaken by Lagos government, given many hitches that had to be overcome. To get to the point of completion, we have had disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, gas pipelines, and the removal of shipwrecks. This made the construction of the submarine pillar extremely difficult.”

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SANWO-OLU EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER REAL ESTATE FRAUDULENT PRACTICES

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… CALLS FOR VIGILANCE AMONG RESIDENTS, PROFESSIONALS TO CURB MENACE

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has expressed concern over the rate of unprofessional practices in the real estate sector in recent time, saying that the development calls for increased vigilance on the part of all genuine real estate practitioners and the government.

The Governor said that in view of the rate of reported cases of dubious acts by some real estate agents who are taking undue advantage of the real estate market, being one of the fastest growing industry in Nigeria and Lagos State in particular, registered real estate practitioners must uncover the quarks in the profession in order to salvage the image of the real estate practice.
Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed these concerns at the Opening Ceremony of the Third Lagos Real Estate Market Place Conference and Exhibitions Organized by Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority-LASRERA, on Tuesday, at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He recalled that the conference and Exhibition was initiated as a platform for Individuals/Organizations operating in the Real Estate Sector to network and address developmental issues affecting the real estate business in Lagos State.
According to Sanwo-Olu, who was represented at the event by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, the chosen theme for Conference; “A Town Hall Meeting On The Lagos Real Estate Emerging Markets – Mitigating Potential Risks” was adopted to once again, beam search light on this sector against the background of new tactics and strategies being deployed by unscrupulous and fake practitioners to defraud unsuspecting clients.

His words: “As a Government, we owe it a duty to safeguard investments of people who may be unaware of some unprofessional practices in the market. The need to restore public confidence to this sector led to the establishment of the Lagos State Real Estate transaction in Lagos State to protect the citizens and investors from the potential risks emerging in the market.

“LASRERA has defined minimum operational standards and guidelines for citizens to abide with. The guidelines provide a comprehensive checklist for the citizens to correctly identify and have competitive list of registered individuals/organizations in order to avoid doing business with unregistered Real Estate practitioners in the system.

“We can’t talk about risks in the real estate sector without mentioning the violation of principles of transparency and Real Estate Laws. These to a greater extent, are major potential risks in this sector.”

While saying that the State Government, through its regulatory agency, LASRERA, cannot sanitize the industry solely, considering the huge real estate transactions going on in different parts of the State, Sanwo-Olu advocated joint monitoring of this sector to curb quackery and unlicensed operators.

He maintained that the Real Estate Market can be floodgate of Economic prosperity to the State and Stakeholders when potential risks are minimum in this Sector.
He also used the occasion to plead with Lagosians and everyone interested in real estate business to be cautious in any financial transaction they engage in by fact checking the track records of the organisations they are dealing with to ascertain if the individual/organization is registered with LASRERA and other relevant government Agencies in the built sectors.
Also speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka noted that the impersonation in the Real Estate industry is becoming unethically high and it’s seriously contributing to fraudulent proliferation in Real Estate Market which is having negative impact on the reputation of individuals/ organizations including the regulating Agencies of the State Government.
“This development calls for appropriate regulation, implementation and enforcement of the Real Estate Laws in order to restore sanity into the sector and instil public confidence in the real estate profession and it explains why the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority – LASRERA is mandated to regulate and register those individuals / organizations who are involved in this Sector.
“Lagos State Government is determined to ensure sanity is restored to the State’s Real Estate Environment with the review of the Agency’s Law on Monday, 7th February, 2022, to protect investors/investees against any potential risks and also prosecute individuals / organizations, boost the activities of Real Estate Markets with accredited and licensed Practitioners through lasrera.lagosstate.gov.ng,” the Special Adviser added.

The Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on E-GIS and Physical Planning, Dr Olajide Babatunde, said that with the computerisation of documents at Lands Bureau, people can sit comfortably in their houses and offices and access information on government portals relating to properties and lands in Lagos State.

Permanent Secretary, Lands Bureau, Mr Olabode Agoro said that the registration of individuals and organizations by LASRERA is to make sure that only qualified and certified practitioners are allowed to practice in the State’s real estate sector.
During the Panel Session on Deploying Technology for Transparency and Growth of the Lagos Real Estate Market, The Moderator, Dr Roland Igbinoba, Founder, Pison Housing and President Nigerian Proptech Association, revealed that GIS is critical for development and Transparency in the Real Estate Sector.

Adeoti Sobowale
Deputy Director Public Affairs LASRERA
6th December,2022

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Dollar crisis: EFCC plans massive raid on forex dealers

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday carried out simultaneous operations against Bureau de Change operators in Abuja and Kano, as the Naira slumped to N857 to a dollar at the parallel market.

The PUNCH gathered that the raids in the two cities, which netted a good number of illegal BDC operators and individuals suspected to be customers, would also be extended to Lagos, Onitsha, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and other major cities across the country.

Our correspondents learnt that the incident disrupted the day’s business as many of the BDC operators in Abuja went underground.

This is happening as the EFCC arrested the Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Ismaila Atumeyi and two others with N326m and $140,500 cash.

 

The black market forex dealers were carrying on their business activity as usual when the EFCC operatives backed by armed policemen stormed their makeshift stalls located opposite the Sheraton Hotel in Zone 4, Wuse, Abuja and took many of them into custody.

An eyewitness noted that the arrested suspects were dragged into waiting vehicles as the incident stalled traffic in the area.

In the wake of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s announcement that the redesigned naira notes will replace higher notes to fight counterfeiting, inflation and insecurity with effect from December 15, the national currency has continued to be under pressure against the dollar.

The development was blamed on BDC operators and individuals desperate to convert their ill-gotten money into hard currency.

The EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa had endorsed the planned redesign of the naira and cautioned BDC operators against currency hoarders who would attempt to seize the opportunity to offload the currencies they had illegally stashed away.

Giving an insight into the raids in Abuja and Kano, a senior official explained that the EFCC has been monitoring the activities of forex dealers in the two cities, adding that the operations were intelligence-led.

Planned raids

He also disclosed further that the raids would be extended to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Ibadan and other cities across the country to stop BDC operators from ‘destroying the naira.’

“Today’s (Tuesday) operations were successful as they were intelligence-led. We have placed various bureau de change points under watch since the CBN announced the redesign of the naira.

“So, we know that those with illegal wealth would want to take advantage of the development to off-load their stash and convert it to dollars. It is not a one-off operation; it would be extended to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Onitsha and other cities,’’ the official disclosed.

“The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed the raid on the forex dealers in Abuja and Kano but said he has no information on the planned operation in other cities.

“I can confirm that our operatives raided the Wuse Zone 4 area of Abuja today and arrested some BDC operators. However, I can’t confirm the number of suspects arrested yet,’’ he stated.

But speaking with The PUNCH after the raid, a forex dealer in Abuja blamed the EFCC for the crash of the local currency.

“We are all in hiding. We sell at N857/$ now. I told you it was N850/$ in the afternoon but that rate is no more possible at this time. The dollar is very scarce because the EFCC entered the market today. Maybe things will change tomorrow (today),” a forex dealer, Abubakar Attahiru, told one of our correspondents on the telephone at 6.12 pm on Tuesday.

Another BDC operator offered to buy a dollar bill at N855 as long as the seller had large sums of greenbacks.

“The more dollars you sell, the more money you make. If we buy at N850/$ from someone who has $100, we will buy at N852 from someone who has $10,000,” he disclosed.

But the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Gwaadabe, said he was fully in support of the raid.

“As an association, we are in support of the raid. We cannot be seeing a lot of irregularities and still support them. It is unlicensed people that have taken over the market. The licensed are not even allowed to operate in the market,” he complained.

He explained that his association was aware of the impact of the proposed naira redesign, which had forced many Nigerians to move towards converting their naira to dollars, noting, however, that it was not a justification for the level of uncertainties in the market.

Economists have said the only major solution to the naira devaluation and the dollarisation of the Nigerian economy is productivity .

According to them, the current situation would hurt all aspects of the economy.

For a Professor of Economics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Uche Nwogwugwu, the major problem was the CBN’s naira redesign announcement.

“What you have seen in the parallel market is a spasm of fear in the people. Why do you need to change your currency at this time when you have inflationary pressure, falling reserves and an economic downturn?

“If all of a sudden you are compelling people to change their currencies, they will be afraid and you will certainly have this kind of situation,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf, explained that the current devaluation of the naira at over N800 to a dollar would take its toll on the budget deficit of the country.

“In this regard, it will affect the deficit. If we have depreciation in the currency, there will be a variation. So, we are likely to see contract variations by contractors. In some contractual agreements, there’s always a variation clause, such that if cost changes or some fundamental variables change, the cost of the contracts will change.

“So, the cost of government projects will increase. Operational costs will increase, just as it affects everybody because the depreciation of the currency has an effect on inflation.

“The main effects will be inflationary and if there is no adjustment to accommodate that increase, projects will not be completed because the value of the naira has been further eroded.”

Meanwhile, a senior lecturer and economist at Pan Atlantic University, Vincent Olusegun, emphasised that the Federal Government was turning deaf ears to the reality of the naira devaluation.

He said, “In Nigeria, the exchange rate is not a floated one, it is one we have fixed ourselves and not market-determined. So, the government is living in denial that as the naira depreciates every day, they can maintain the exchange rate.

“Also, the exchange rate regime in the country is not market-driven because the government can fix N400 plus to a dollar which is what we are doing. In reality, the ability of the government to meet up with the budget is becoming unrealistic because the purchasing capacity has been reduced heavily.’’

PUNCH

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