Our attention has been drawn to the Social Media News post on the evening of 15 th April 2019 by pmnewsnigeria.com with the headline, “COURT OKAYS ACCESS BANK’s TAKEOVER OF DON ETIEBET’s PROPERTY OVER N2.4BN DEBT” as well as the syndicated reports in the National Newspapers the following day, the 16th of April 2019, including THISDAY, THE NATION, PUNCH, THE GUARDIAN and the VANGUARD Newspapers.
1. OBODEX Nigeria Limited wishes to state categorically that this is not true. The Court has not ordered or authorized Access Bank Plc or its appointed Receiver/Manager Mr. Kunle Ogunba Esq to take over the mentioned property. This syndicated news is false in every material particular and we urge the members of the public to discountenance it. The truth of the situation is that the action instituted by Access Bank Plc in suit number, FHC/L/CS/1537/2018, between Access Bank Plc Vs. OBODEX Nigeria Limited is still pending before the Federal High Court and same has been adjourned to 21st of May 2019 for further hearing. What came up on Monday, the 15th of April 2019, was a ruling of the Court refusing the Application for Stay of Execution of the interlocutory order granted in favour of the Receiver/Manager on December 17, 2018.
2. It was the view of OBODEX that the granting of that order was wrong because the Court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter before it at first instance. The Application challenging the jurisdiction of the Court filed by Counsel to OBODEX was that the Federal High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter in view of an earlier suit instituted by Access Bank Plc against OBODEX in claim No. CL-2018-000487 between Access Bank Plc and OBODEX Nigeria Limited at the Queen’s Bench, High Court of Justice in the U.K, which was between the same parties over the same issues for the same relief in respect of the same transaction. The Court decided it has jurisdiction and OBODEX promptly appealed to the Court of Appeal in Appeal Number, CA/L/387/2019.
3. The motion for Stay of Execution was predicated on the pendency of that appeal. Consequent upon the decision refusing the application for stay on Monday 15th of April 2019, OBODEX had promptly filed a similar application at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday the 16 th of April 2019.
4. OBODEX wishes to correct the misinformation contained in the syndicated publications in the interest of the members of the public, some of whom have actually called our Chairman, Chief Don Etiebet and to state as follows:
(I) That Access Bank Plc availed TOP OIL and Gas Development Company Ltd (TOPOIL) an Import Finance Facility/Usance (IFF) of US$ 12 Million to import AGO (Diesel) for some specific customers. Part of the IFF in the amount of US$6.382M was used to establish a Letter of Credit (L/C) in 2015 for the importation of 10,000MT of AGO from AUGUSTA Energy SA of Geneva, Switzerland on a Proforma Invoice Supplied by Cast Oil & Gas Ltd of Lekki V.I. Lagos. The IFF/Usance Facility was Guaranteed by our Company and our Chairman, Chief Don Etiebet, using ETIEBETS Place Tower Building as security.
(ii) That on the 23rd of November 2018, a Receiver/Manager, ‘Kunle Ogunba Esq, appointed by Access Bank Plc to recover the unpaid L/C amount of N2.2Billion ($6.382Million) with interest, led about 15 Policemen and Court Bailiffs to ETIEBETS Place around 7:30 am to serve AN EX-PARTE ORDER of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Lagos division, on OBODEX Nigeria Limited as the Guarantor of the facility upon MOTION
EX-PARTE dated 20/09/2018, disrupting all tenants’ activities at the Place. We promptly contacted our Solicitors, Messrs Dele Adesina LP to take up the matter on our behalf.
(iii) Upon an Application filed by our Solicitors challenging the Ex- Parte Order of injunction, the Court set aside the Ex-Parte Order on the 17th of December 2018 and surprisingly on the same breath granted an interlocutory order of injunction. It is this interlocutory injunction that our lawyers asked to be stayed pending the determination of the appeal lodged against the ruling of the Court made on the 17th of December 2018 on the Court’s jurisdiction. OBODEX believes that Access Bank Plc suit at the Federal High Court instituted on the 20th September 2018 was an abuse of court process for multiplicity of actions, a similar suit having been instituted earlier at the Queen’s Bench Division High Court of Justice in the U.K on the 19th of July 2018 on the same matter.
(iv) Apart from the pendency of the appeal stated above at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, and the substantive Originating Summons still pending before the Federal High Court for hearing, is the motion challenging the appointment of the Receiver/Manager by Access Bank Plc in view of the contestation of the Import Finance Facility by the borrower-Top Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (TOPOIL).
(v) Indeed, OBODEX Nigeria Ltd wishes to state that the borrower, Top Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (TOPOIL), had petitioned the Nigeria Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU) in January 2018 to investigate the transaction of the importation of the 10,000MT of the AGO from AUGUSTA Energy SA of Geneva, Switzerland when TOPOIL did not receive the cargo or the proceeds of the sales of the cargo. It is the payment of the L/C amount of $6.382Million by Access Bank Plc to AUGUSTA Energy SA and the debiting of TOPOIL account of same amount that is the subject matter of this court action. The Petition has not only been investigated but same is now the basis of criminal charges for fraud-related offences between the Commissioner of Police Vs. Cast Oil and Gas Limited & 9 others including Access Bank Plc, Herbert Nwigwe – GMD Access Bank Plc and Titi Osutokun – Executive Director, Access Bank Plc and Chiyenre Bishop-Adigwe – TOPOIL Relationship Manager as 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th Defendants respectively at the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Judicial Division.
5. OBODEX Nigeria Ltd wishes therefore to state strongly that because of the Fraud perpetuated in the importation of the 10,000MT of the AGO Cargo which Access Bank Plc is involved in and has been charged to court and TOPOIL has neither received the cargo nor the proceeds of the sale of the cargo up till now, TOPOIL is not indebted to Access Bank Plc and as such Access Bank Plc has no grounds to pounce on OBODEX Nigeria Ltd property to repay the debt.
The motion for Stay of Execution of the Order and an Order for injunction having been filed at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday the 16th of April, 2019 restraining the Receiver/Manager from interfering with the Appellant’s right on the property situated at 21, Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja, known as Etiebets Place, OBODEX hopes that parties will await the determination of the Appellant’s motion and hearing of the Appeal in the interest of justice.
Meanwhile, ETIEBETS PLACE is safe and intact and NOT “Taken Over” by Access Bank Plc as mischievously publicised.
Management OBODEX Nigeria Limited