Tunji Braithwaite battles Standard Chartered Bank over Lagos building construction

Mr. Braithwaite accuses the bank of flouting court order.

The battle between Tunji Braithwaite, a pro-democracy activist and former presidential candidate, and Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited continued, Thursday, with the former accusing the bank of flouting a subsisting court order.

Mr. Braithwaite, a lawyer, had instituted a N10 billion suit against the bank for erecting a 15-storey commercial building in a residential neighbourhood in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The construction of the building, along with a five-level car park at Elias Close where Mr. Braithwaite lives, has continued despite a Court of Appeal order for a stay of action, the lawyer said.

“There is an order of the Court of Appeal stopping them at the second floor yet they are now on the 15th floor. This is a serious case to try,” Mr. Braithwaite told Justice Doris Okuwobi of an Ikeja High Court.

Mr. Braithwaite also accused the bank’s lawyers of deliberately stalling the matter which began in 2010.

“My Lord, I’m not happy with the trend of this case. This case will surely try the integrity of the Nigerian legal system and would either have a solutary effect or eternal condemnation of the Nigeria legal system,” Mr. Braithwaite continued.

“Your lordship will recall that you granted us an order amending our process since June 2013, but up till now the defendant has deliberately refused to file their statement of defence and manipulating the Nigeria legal system while continuing to destroy the res by building up till 15th floor,” he added.

In addition to turning what was a hitherto quiet neighbourhood into “a market,” Mr. Braithwaite also accused the bank of installing giant electricity generators directly opposite his home which empties noise and noxious fumes into his living rooms.

Standard Chartered Bank, however, denied all the allegations.

Oluwatosin Iyayi, the bank’s counsel, prayed to the court for more time to file her defence, adding that the bank was not manipulating the legal system as claimed by the plaintiff.

The judge, in her ruling, said she would not meddle into the allegations of continued construction of the building since the matter is already before the appellate court.

Justice Okuwobi also frowned at defence’s delay in filing its court processes and adjourned till February 13th for hearing of pending application and for the defence to amend its papers.

At the onset of the building construction, Mr. Braithwaite said that he wrote several letters of complaint to the bank, but rather, the bank went and procured a “fake” building approval permit and continued work on the site.

He urged the court to grant a demolishing order on the building at the expense of the bank, as well as general damages in the sum of N10 billion for the nuisance caused and injuries inflicted on him – adding that the interest on damages be awarded at 21 per cent rate until payment.

However, Standard Chartered Bank insisted that it sought and lawfully obtained a genuine permit and approval from the Lagos State Government.

According to the bank, a letter dated May 21, 2009, issued by the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning, stated the use to which the bank could put the property; and a planning regulation regarding developments in the area.

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