N3bn Debt: Court orders First Bank, Vine Oil status quo

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A Federal High Court, has ordered that status quo be maintained in a N3billion debt recovery suit filed by First Bank of Nigeria Limited against an oil company, Vine Oil and Gas Limited.

The order of the court was as a result of an application filed by a Lagos lawyer, Bimbo Akeredolu SAN, on behalf of, Vine and Gas FZE (tank farm)) and Vine and Gas limited company challenging the appointment of Mr Akin Adesomoju as the receiver of the tank farm and the oil company while another lawyer Mr Sylva Ogwemoh SAN had also filed an application on behalf of Sterling bank Plc to join the suit as defendant.

First bank had earlier appointed a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Akin Adesomoju, through a court order as the receiver/manager, over the Petroleum storage facility (tank farm), of the oil and gas firm, Vine Oil and Gaslimied, located at Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River State.

The order of the presiding judge Hadiza Shagari appointing Mr Adesomoju to take over the tank farm was sequel to an application filed before the court by Barrister Adesomoju on behalf of First Bank Nigeria Limited, seeking an order appointing him as the receiver/manager over the oil and gas company’s storage tank firm at Calabar, Vine Oil and Gas FZE unrestricted access to enter upon taken possession and control of the tank firm, in line with the Deed of debenture dated December 18, 2014, and in line with notice of Appointment dated May 18, 2016.

Co-respondents in the suit are: Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority, and Vine Oil and Gas FZE.

The court also made an order restraining all respondents or any other parties from interfering in any manner with the statutory duties of the receiver/manager.

In an affidavit in support of the application deposed to by Idenedo Oghenerukevwe, a principal officer of First Bank, he averred that First Bank had on October 7, 2013, granted the total sum of N2.890 billion being overdraft facility, LPO/stock replacement facility and tank farm purchase term loan facility, respectively, to the Vine Oil and Gas limited.

He stated further that the oil and gas company made a legal mortgage of a filing station located at KM13 Asaba/Benin expressway, Delta State, personal guarantee of its directors and a tank farm facility known as Vine Oil and Gas FZE, located at Calabar Free Trade Zone, as securities for the above stated credit facilities.

The deponent stated further that after the bank disbursed the facilitate to the oil and gas company, it used the facility to purchase a Petroleum storage facility from Dozzy Oil Limited.

The deponent also stated that both the bank and Vine Oil and Gas Limited, had executed a deed of novation dated August 8, 2014, wherein they agreed to transfer the liability in respect of the facility used for the purchase of the tank farm. And that the Vine and Gas limited shall liable for the payment of the loan facility, and it shall also be bound by all the conditions and warranty of the letter of offer between the bank and the Oil and Gas Firm.

The deponent however averred that shortly after the deed of novation was executed, the company started defaulting in repayment of the loan Facilities granted them. And on several occasions, the management of the Free Trade Zone and the Oil and gas firm pleaded with the bank for restructuring to enable them pay back the loan.

He stated further that upon the inability of the debtor to liquidate their debt, their accounts including the one for facility for the tank farm loan was qualified as non-performing in line with Central Bank of Nigeria’s guidelines, and pursuant to the above default by the respondents, the bank appointed Mr. Akin Adesomoju of Messrs Akin Adesomoju and Co., as Receiver/Manager of the Vine Oil and Gas FZE’s assets.

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