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US$250, 000 Controversial Mortgage …Sky Bank in Court Again

 

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Sky Bank Siaka Steven Street

By Salifu Conteh

Why are some foreign banks, notably Nigerian banks becoming notorious in confisticating and selling mortgages owned by Customers in Sierra Leone under the pretext that they were delinquent in repaying their loans is the question many Sierra Leoneans are asking without answers.

The Court of Appeal is witnessing a legal battle involving the Sky Bank, Sierra Leone Limited over a property situated at No 65 Pademba Road in Freetown which was sold to one Mohamed Borbor Bah in the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars $250,000.000). The property is currently under undergoing rehabilitation, whilst the matter is the subject of a legal tussle at the Court of Appeal.

The property was been purchased by the Appellant Mohamed Borbor Bah from the Sky Bank at a time when the Sky Bank and the late Kalie Jabbie were  at the High Court over title of the same property  regards ownership.

Counsel for Sky Bank, Rolland Wright, claimed that the Defendant had failed to fully comply with an Order from the Court in delivering title deed to the Respondent within 24 hours as directed by the Court, adding that he also failed to apply for an extension of time even though the judge gave 24 hours, which was separate and distinct from appealing against the judgment.

He argued that the mortgage property at Pademba Road shall be owned by a private entity and the Plaintiff shall for this purpose have immediate recovery of the property being that the Defendant had failed to comply with the Court Order.

“, It is my submission that the Plaintiff takes immediate recovery of the property and  “we are at liberty to sell the property to any other third party,” adding that “from that point in time the equity of redemption was extinguished by the High Court,”.

He stressed that since equity of redemption had been extinguished by the Court it has never been appealed against.

Lawyer Wright noted that as at 5th August, 2013 there was no equity of redemption available to the Appellant.

He said “notwithstanding the equity or the sale agreement the judgment of Justice Eku Roberts dated 6th August 2014 made it clear that Sky bank has no insurable interest but has right to sale”.

According him, the sale of the property was made pursuant to the High court instruction, arguing that no Insurance Company will surely cover an Insurable interest.

“It is only the Appellant that has a value Insurable interest,” he noted.

Lawyer Wright referred the court to the conveyable Act, Section 41(2) which dictates that even when the power of sale is authorized improperly or irregularly exercised, the remedy is damage on the person who irregularly exercised that power.

“The title of the purchaser shall not be impeccable, which means the title and conveyance of the Appellate cannot be questioned pursuant to the Order of the High Court even if, it is irregular, the title cannot be impeachable,” he emphatically argued.

He contended that it is not the practice in Sierra Leone for a mortgage bank to take possession of mortgage property. “But by law, the moment the property is mortgaged, the mortgage bank is entitled to take possession of mortgaged property, only that he must account to the mortgagor, for instance, rent collected, lease agreement etc.,” said lawyer Wright.

“It is my submissions that the Appellate is not entitle to be in occupation, it is the mortgage bank that should be in occupation,” he concluded.

In reaction, Counsel for the Appellate, Mohamed Borbor Bah- Respondent, Lawyer Osman Jalloh Esq. filed an appeal and a motion for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the appeal.

In addition to the appeal filed, he is also challenging the ownership of the property which his client has paid Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars.

Lawyer Jalloh informed the Judges that it was wrong and irregular for the judgment to have been executed by the Appellant-Sky Bank.

He asked that the panel of three Judges whether the Appellant before the court has any right to the land as of 29th February 2015 to enforce the execution when the Appeal court has given an Order.

Jalloh said since there was a contract of sale in existence of the property at Pademba Road the court has no jurisdiction to order a stay of execution or restoration of the contentious property to any of the parties.

“If the equity of redemption has ended on the 29th August, the Appellant has no right with regards the property at 65 Pademba Road. By their own very admission in their affidavit filed, it was state that there was a contract of sale even before the redemption,” he submitted.

The solicitor argued that if redemption has been closed then there is no right to a property. He canvassed the judges to set aside the case of his colleagues on the other side, arguing that if such is not done, nobody will trust banks in purchasing business.

“The effect of this decision if not set aside would be like no one will feel safe to buy property from the banks and the position of the law will be unsettle. I urged you to do justice in this matter on the position of the law,” he appealed.

Meanwhile, the panel of Judges, which include Justice Vivian Solomon, Reginald Fyn and other, adjourned the matter to a date that will be communicated to them by notice. This is not the first time that foreign banks are taking possession of properties owned by Sierra Leoneans on flimsy and fraudulent manner.

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