Defamation: Court Orders FCMB To Deposit N540m In Favour Of Cleric, Emmanuel Omale

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The Court of Appeal, in Abuja, has ordered First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to pay N540 million awarded as compensation by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court to a cleric, Emmanuel Omale, over defamation, Dailynewscover gathers.
In October 2022, a judge of the FCT High Court at Maitama, Abuja, Yusuf Halilu, ordered the bank to pay the compensation to Mr Omale of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry and his wife, Deborah, over a false claim that they laundered N573 million for former chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
The false claim against Mr Omale, and other unproven allegations of wrongdoings were reported without proof in the lead-up to Mr Magu’s turbulent exit from office as head of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, EFCC.
Ruling on 1 February, on FCMB’s application for a stay of execution of the earlier verdict, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Muhammed Shuaibu, rejected the request.
But the appellate court granted a conditional stay of execution of the judgement by ordering FCMB to deposit the judgment sum of 540 Million into an interest-yielding account in the name of the FCT High Court’s chief registrar.
“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 (FCMB).
“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 of Appeal said in an enrolled copy of its ruling seen on Sunday by our source.
Subsequently, the court adjourned further hearings in the suit until a date to be communicated to parties by the court’s registry.
Background
During the investigation of Magu by a Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020, it was alleged that an investigation by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) revealed that Mr Magu, who is now retired from the police, paid N573 million into Mr Omale’s church’s account.
It further alleged that the funds were used to purchase property for him in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
About the time the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported the report of the panel, Mr Magu was facing a barrage of similar allegations from a presidential investigative panel led by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami.
President Muhammad Buhari has refused to release the report of any of the panels to enable the public to have first-hand information about Mr Magu’s culpability or otherwise in the charge and many others levelled against him.
The Mr Salami-led panel, which conducted its months-long hearing in secrecy, is believed to have been engineered by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to get Mr Magu out of office over wide differences they shared on diverse issues.
Mr Magu, who was suspended as Acting Chairman of the EFCC in the wake of the probe by Mr Salami’s panel, was never recalled or held accountable for any infraction after the panel submitted its report to Mr Buhari.
The other panel, titled, ‘Final Report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020,’ was said to be headed by Abdullahi Ibrahim, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
It stated that Mr Magu, through a pastor named Omale, had been laundering public funds to foreign countries.
“As an unknown pastor, the NFIU’s report showed the huge movement of funds ranging from N573, 228,040.41,” the report claimed.
The report, published by NAN, delved into other allegations against Mr Magu including- failing to cooperate with foreign authorities over probe on former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and circulation of disproportionate figures on recovered loot.
The report accused Mr Magu of allegedly failing to properly account for a recovered N551 billion by the EFCC while he was its acting chairman.
The report featured prominently in the course of the defamation hearing filed by the Omales to clear their names.
But in the judgement delivered by Mr Halilu, FCMB admitted an error in its report to the NFIU about entries into the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account.
The judge said the bank breached its “duty of care to the claimants,” the Omales and their church.
Consequently, the award of N200 million as aggravated damages; N140,500,000 as specific damages and N200m as general damages against FCMB in favour of the Omales.

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