Alleged N6.6bn debt: Court stops Stella Oduah, company from making withdrawal from 21 bank accounts
A federal high court in Lagos has restrained Senator Stella Ada Oduah and Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited and its directors from making any withdrawal whatsoever from the account of the company and three other Limited Liability companies, Sea Shipping Agency Limited, Rotary Engineering Services Limited, and Tour Afrique Company Limited domicile with 21 commercial banks listed over indebtedness of $16,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59 (around N6.6bn).
The court also granted an order directing the said commercial banks having Stella Oduah and the four companies’ asset to sequestrate up to the indebtedness of Stella Oduah and Sea petroleum and Gas Company Limited in the sum of $16,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59 respectively owed by Stella Oduah.
The court held that the money should be kept in an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal court pending the determination of the suit filed before the court to recover the debt.
The order of the court was sequel to an affidavit sworn to by business manager, Maritime of Sterling bank Plc Mr. Segun Akinsanya, filed and argued before the court by its lawyer, Kemi Balogun (SAN).
Akinsanya in the affidavit averred that on October 8,2012, the bank granted a lease /cabotage vessel finance facility to Sea Petroleum and Gas Company in the sum of $10,069,620.25 to finance one unit 5,000MT tanker vessel.
The loan was secured by unconditional personal guarantee of the companies director, Princess Stella Oduah supported by statement of her net-worth, legal mortgage of two properties worth N135million, power of Attorneys of the tanker vessel in favour of Sterling Bank and fully executed irrevocable standing payment order and tripartite remittance agreement between First Bank plc, Sterling Bank and Stella Oduah.
It was further averred that between June 27, 2013, Sea petroleum company requested for, and was granted additional facilities in the sum of $449,600.00 for post delivery expenses, $642,954.00 and $350,000 to meet the requisite conditions in securing the release of the tanker.
Upon the persistent failure of the defendants to liquidate their indebtedness, Sterling Bank instructed the law firm of Oluwakemi Balogun to recover the debt.
Despite several reminders, demands, pleas and persuasion by the bank, and its solicitor, the defendants have failed and refused to liquidate their indebtedness, which has culminated in the sum of $16,412,819.06.and N100,493,225.59 as at November 2016.
Akinsanya also averred that the defendants are also greatly indebted to a number of banks, and have conceded a number of Assets to AMCON, who have stepped into the shoes of those banks.
The plaintiff’s attorney said there is imminent risk of the defendants dissipating the assets of the companies. He therefore urged the court to grant the order restraining Stella Oduah and other directors of Sea Petroleum and Gas company from withdrawing money from the account of the companies domicile with 21 banks listed before the court, pending the final determination of the debt recovery suit.
Meanwhile, based on ex-parte application filed and argued before the court by Kemi Balogun, SAN, that it has been difficult to serve court process and order on the defendants, the presiding judge, justice Abdulaziz Anka has ordered that court process should be advertised in Newspapers.
However, Stella Oduah and her companies while urging the court to discharge the order made against them also filed preliminary objection to the suit, urging the court to strike out the suit on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Justice Anka has adjourned till 20th of March, 2017 to decide either to vacate the order or not.
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