- MTN‘s Lawyers Filed an Appeal Against the Controversial Order Issued by a Douala Court
- The Matter came up at the Littoral Court of Appeal on June 23, and was Adjourned to July 14
- Judge had Ordered Four Banks to Transfer Money from MTN Accounts to an Escrow Account to be Administered by a Court Registrar Who Grabs A Percentage as Commission
The highly controversial case between Cameroonian businessman, Ahmadou Baba Danpullo, represented by a group of five lawyers, and the mobile telephony company, MTN Cameroon, represented by a battery of senior lawyers, is currently at the level of the Littoral Court of Appeal in Douala.
At the court, MTN’s defense lawyers, led by Senior Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga (former President of the Cameroon Bar Council), are fighting to have the court annul the controversial decision that was taken against their client by the Court of First Instance (Magistrate Court) at Bonanjo, Douala in the Littoral Region of Cameroon.
It would be recalled that a judge at the Court of First Instance at Bonanjo, Douala, Quentin Djapite Ndoumbe, on June 9, 2023 took a controversial decision, by ordering four commercial banks in the country, that is Afriland First Bank, UBA, SCB and Ecobank, to transfer funds in the accounts of MTN Cameroon and Chococam, to an Escrow Account that was to be administered by the he Registrar of the Court.
Worst still, the court order was placed under penalty for any failure. According to the court order, Afriland First was to pay 100 million francs CFA fine for any one day that passed without the bank having transferred the money from MTN accounts as ordered, to the escrow account. Also, UBA, SCB and Ecobank were to each pay a fine of 50 million francs for any day that passed without them having done the transfer of the funds to the escrow account.
Court Adjourns Appeal Case To July 14
Meanwhile, a member of MTN Cameroon’s defense team, Barrister Roland Abeng, who briefed THE MENTOR on Monday, June 26, 2023 from Yaounde by phone, sad that following the June 9, 2023 controversial order that was passed by the Court of First Instance at Bonanjo, Douala, instructing four banks to transfer the funds in the accounts of MTN Cameroon to an escrow account, MTN’s defense team immediately filed an appeal against the decision.
But the Senior Barrister, Roland Abeng, who besides being a member of the Cameroon Bar Association is also a member of the American Bar Association, explained that in such a case, the filing of an appeal does not mean a stay of execution. This, he further explained, meant that just the appeal they filed could not put on hold the court order that the four banks should transfer the funds in MTN accounts to an escrow account. He said they thus had to also register the appeal that they filed. By doing that, they had requested a stay of execution of the June 9 order that was passed by the Court of First Instance. Barrister Abeng said the appeal case came up for the first time at the Littoral Court of Appeal on Friday, June 23, and was adjourned to July 14, 2023.
A Third Party To Enter The Appeal Case
Barrister Abeng as well disclosed that a State institution, ‘Caisse des Depots de la Consignation’, has formally indicated that it will come into the matter, that is the appeal case, as a Third Party as from the next hearing which will be on July 14.
Barrister Abeng said interestingly enough, “Caisse des Depots de la Congsignation’, is arguing that it is the institution that is competent to receive and administer the funds that the Court of First Instance at Bonanajo, Douala has ordered should be transferred from MTN Cameroon’s accounts, and not a Court Registrar. The institution says the Court Registrar has no authority or competence to administer the funds, and so the decision that was passed by the judge of the Court of First Instance was wrong. Barrister Abeng however made it clear that “Caisse des Depots de la Consignation” in principle is supposed to be a neutral party in the case, and thus will not be coming into the matter at the Littoral Court of Appeal as a Third Party, to support any side.
MTN Cameroon Made Three Proposals
Worthy of note that when the Judge at the Court of First Instance at Bonanajo, Douala, Quentin Djapite Ndoumbe, ordered that MTN Cameroon’s funds in four commercial banks be transferred to an escrow account to be managed by the Registrar of Court, the company through its team of defense lawyers immediately contested the decision and made three proposals to the court. The three proposals were that either the funds be maintained in the accounts of the four commercial banks so that the money should continue to serve the Cameroon economy, that the funds be transferred to the Central Bank (BEAC), or that the funds be administered by the ‘Ciaisse des Depots de la Consignation’.
But then the judge, Quentin Djapite Ndoumbe, rejected all the three proposals and insisted that the funds be transferred to an escrow account to be administered by the Court Registrar, who quarterly or after each three months, would receive a commission of 0.3 % of the funds.
Financial Interest Involved In Administering An Escrow Account
When we consider that the funds from the bank accounts of MTN Cameroon and Chococam that the Court Registrar would have administered totals several tens of billions of francs CFA, we are talking of a situation where the 0.3 % would give the Court Registrar hundreds of millions of francs CFA quarterly. Your imagination is definitely as good as mine, as to what would happen to the huge sums of money that the Court Registrar would grab as commission after each three months. It would of course be shared.
Also come to think of the risks involved, that the funds of two big companies amounting to several dozens of billions of francs CFA , are put into an escrow account to be administered by a Court Registrar in a country like Cameroon. Jesus!
By Joe Dinga Pefok (Uncle Joe)
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