Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
A High Court sitting in Ihiala, Anambra State, has dismissed N100 million suit filed by one Simon Osita Ezeugwu against Heritage bank Plc and two others over malicious prosecution.
The presiding Judge, Justice Ike Ogu, while delivering the judgement, said that plaintiff (Ezeugwu) did not establish the other elements of malicious prosecution against the defendants (Heritage bank and two others).
Justice Ogu said: ‘Since I have resolved the first issue for determination in favour of the plaintiff but resolved the second issue for determination against him, the implication is that there is no merit in his claim which is hereby dismissed. I make no order as to costs and direct the parties to bear their respective costs.’
The crux of the matter was that one Chinenye Nwogu, an out-sourced staff of the defunct Enterprise Bank Plc, now Heritage bank Plc, was alleged to have disappeared with $28,000 a bank customer gave her to deposit for him in the bank to enable him to transfer same to his customers in China.
The customer had petitioned the police who in the course of the investigation invited the manager of the bank Ngozi Ojukwu and the plaintiff (Ezeugwu), as the police discovered that the plaintiff’s number was in Nwogu’s surety job profile.
It was after the investigation that police left the bank manager off the hook but charged the plaintiff to a magistrate court for the missing $28, 000 but the plaintiff was subsequently discharged and acquitted by the Chief Magistrate Court, Onitsha.
The plaintiff however filed this suit against the defendants through his lawyer for malicious prosecution, his counsel during the trial contended that Heritage bank manager and Chimezie Okwudili allegedly conspired and investigated a criminal, trumped-up complaint against the plaintiff to the police.
But the judge in his judgement upheld the formulation of the Heritage bank defence counsels, Chris Ajuwe and Mrs Chinenye Nzegwu that the case for malicious prosecution without reasonable or probable cause had not been made out by the plaintiff against the defendants.
Justice Ogu also held that the action could be heard hold in without the Nigerian Police being made a party and accepted the contention of the defence counsel that the plaintiff did not prove the defendants were liable for malicious prosecution.